Global STYLE Battles WITH DANIELE TAMAGNI
PRIVATE VIEW THURSDAY 23rd of May
6:30 - 9:00PM
24th of May à¯¿½ 22nd of June
A handsome Congolese man in a Pepto-Bismol pink suit strides towards the camera, fat cigar clenched casually between his teeth. His red bowler hat sits in stark contrast to the fades beige of the buildings behind him, and the dusty asphalt beneath his feet, yet sits in perfect harmony with his brightly polished red shoes. Elsewhere, two Bolivian women in long flowing skirts of blue and green are caught mid-fight, as one launches a side kick at the other in a makeshift boxing ring in an old, faded courtyard, their long traditional, black braids dishevelled, lace petticoats flying, as crowds cheer them on.
These are just two of a diverse series of works exploring music and fashion and marking a mid-career retrospective of the works of Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni, spanning works from 2007 to date. Running from 24 May- 22 June 2013 at ArtEco Gallery, in 'Global Style Battles', we enter the colourful and achingly hip world that includes 'The Flying Cholitas', 'Playboys of Bacongo', 'Havana Glam', 'Afrometal' and the original Django, spanning African hell riders and duelling Bolivian women.
How then, does an Italian street photographer end up in locations as exotic as Africa and Cuba? "I am interested in urban style worldwide," explains Tamagni. "Not just in exotic locales, but also within my own country. However, I try to avoid the label "exoticism and ethnographic pictures'." Enthralled by the light and colours of the South, Tamagni's projects have taken him to cities such as Brazzaville, Gaborone, Johannesburg, Dakar, Havana and La Paz. "Moreover, I have a lot of African and Caribbean friends," he explains. "Although I am Italian, I have always been open-minded about learning about and understanding different cultures. The last few years in particular have influenced my style and subject choices, producing portfolios which might generate a critical reflection on the identity of these people who consider elegance their main reason for existence inside a social reality so very different and so distant from that of our own." Tamagni's iconic photographs are a mixture of the staged and the in situ, depending on what occurs within a specific moment. The costumes and dress, however, are all real, although Tamagni smiles and says 'if they appear to be constructed, then that is good, for I want to leave the viewer questioning what they see.'
With a background in art history, Tamagni is influenced by photographers such as Cartier Bresson and Alex Webb, who à¯¿½prefer to capture and freeze the instant magic moment in aesthetically beautiful pictures.à¯¿½ In this vein, the Italian photographer seeks to explore the street style of subcultures in contemporary society, presenting them in different contexts, rather akin to Malick Sidibè or James Barnor, who documented street life in African communities in the 1960s and 70s.
While some works feature effortless chic, others (such as a group of young Smaartez from South African wearing pith helmets and short pants) hark to Colonialist images of the continent, steeped in irony and a keen questioning of the stereotypical imagery of culture and locations. à¯¿½Ià¯¿½ve always been interested in the relationship between Africa, its colonial past, and its relationship to the West,à¯¿½ Tamagni admits. à¯¿½There are always reminders à¯¿½ these icons are so strong that the urban landscape might even remind one of Berlin, yet is actually Johannesburg.à¯¿½
Other highlights include à¯¿½Gentlemen of Bacongoà¯¿½, one of Tamagnià¯¿½s most iconic and best-known projects. Set in Congoà¯¿½s Brazzaville, the series explores the social and urban context of à¯¿½Sapeursà¯¿½ à¯¿½ which the photographer considers à¯¿½a revolutionary movement, because dressing up is a way to escape and forget poverty. Sapeurs in most cases are humble people and have come from low classes and have a dream to escape from Africa and have a better life.à¯¿½ These are juxtaposed by the Sapeurs of à¯¿½Afrometalà¯¿½. In their black leather pants and studded belts, boots and cowboy hats, they could not be further removed from the brightly coloured suits of their counterparts in Brazzaville, yet, for all their heavy metal references, these Botswana meatheads share with other Sapeurs around the country a passion to express themselves. While their clothes may have originated in the West, each iconic style has been re-adapted with African iconography.
There is much to see and explore in the works of Tamagni, and he currently seeks to expand his portfolio to re-explore his roots in Italy as well as return to the Soweto neighbourhood in South Africaà¯¿½s Johannesburg. à¯¿½I find that area so inspiring, I need to go back and finish a project,à¯¿½ he says. à¯¿½Similarly, I would also like to document street life in South Italy, in Naples or Palermo. Coming from Milan, Ià¯¿½ve always had a passion for the former, and the latter has the special Mediterranean light; the people remind also to some extend of those in Havana.à¯¿½ Currently focusing on research and exploring other street-style related issues, Tamagni is also working on a book project; à¯¿½Global Street Battlesà¯¿½ will feature all his works to date in different chapters organised by the specific subcultures related to them.
à¯¿½Global STYLE Battlesà¯¿½ runs from 24th Mayà¯¿½22nd June 2013 at ArtEco Gallery, London, UK.
Information for journalists:
About Daniele Tamagni
Daniele Tamagni is a freelance photographer from Italy. In 2007 he won the Canon Young Photographer Award with a project on Congolese à¯¿½Dandysà¯¿½; Sapeurs of Brazzaville. This was followed by the publication of a book in 2009 entitled, Gentlemen of Bacongo. This book went on to influence designer Paul Smith, who wrote the preface, and who found inspiration in Tamagnià¯¿½s works for his S/S 2010 collection. In 2010, Tamagni won the ICP INFINITY AWARD in the fashion category. He then travelled to Bolivia for a project on women wrestlers, winning the World Press Photo in Arts & Entertainment category in 2011. Currently, Afrometals is shortlisted for the Sony World professional Award in the art and culture category. Between 2001 and 2012 Tamagni has continued to explore street style trends and the aesthetics of transformation in cities that include Havana, Dakar, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, with the aim to publish a book on global street life that will include all these projects. Tamagni is an art historian who digs into marginal street cultures, seeking to connect with drop outs, lost kids and the poor in a search for identity and respect. And he finds them all over the world. www.photodantam.com
About ArtEco Gallery
ArtEco Gallery is the conceptual brainchild of Kristin Hjellegjerde, serving as a creative outlet following the success of her art blog of the same name, established in 2010. After moving from New York to London, Hjellegjerde decided to establish the gallery in south west London in order to offer a fresh outlook for Contemporary art in this part of the city. Based in Old York Road, the gallery seeks to showcase both emerging and established Contemporary artists from a range of backgrounds in an intimate and personal environment. Previous exhibitions include the inaugural After Munch, as well as Manmadegod. For more information, visit www.artecogallery.com
For further information and high-resolution images, please contact Kristin Hjellegjerde on firstname.lastname@example.org