Dafe Oboro is part of a new generation of Africa-based storytellers. Walking the line between fashion imagery and social documentary, Oboro’s work is encompassed in the tender and benevolent humor of this talented image-maker. His latest film, A Beautiful Struggle, produced in collaboration with Vlisco&co, is an ode to the pursuit of fame by all means necessary in the name of fashion. Set in the city of Lagos, the film offers a living portrait of a ceative, optimistic, and dynamic youth.
The Art Momentum: Can you share with us a bit about your background?
Dafe Oboro : I’m a 25-years-old, currently working as a filmmaker, photographer, casting director, and producer in Lagos, Nigeria, where I was born and raised. My work is deeply tied to my experience growing up in Lagos. To me, it has been a vivid source of great inspiration. As a creative, I can appreciate the authenticity in its character, as well as the diversity of its people. In turn, I can also acknowledge its difficulty and hardships as a complicated place where one can thrive, but also a home one can get lost in.
TAM: When and how did your fascination with fashion imagery begin?
D. O.: My interest initially started when I began taking pictures of myself sporting interesting, unconventional outfits for my online blog. My goal was to document my personal fashion and lifestyle through pictures but also integrate this creative expression into my everyday reality and try to relate that with others. I find that fashion surrounds us always, regardless of setting or what you do. Fashion imagery helps document this ever-changing, lively, and buoyant state of fashion and best captures the dynamic nature of its existence.
TAM: In your latest film A Beautiful Struggle you poetically and vividly show us your vision of beauty in the everyday routine in Lagos. Whether through photography or video, what is at the core of your work?
D. O.: To me, my work is using creativity as a form and means of expressing my reality and that of those around me in raw and multi-dimensional honesty. This often means telling interesting stories, but it also means portraying painful, untold ones too. In the end, art is a medium to raise awareness and change the world. I’m always jotting down ideas and concepts that come to me throughout my daily life, so when Vlisco&co approached me to create a film showcasing their brand, I had already intended to create a piece expanding on the concept of migration and rural to urban settlement at the heart of my first documentary film.
TAM: By participating in another vision of the African continent, you offer a powerful alternative to the stereotypes still imposed by the mainstream media. What do you think will be the major themes of this new decade ? How do you think the perception of Africa and African culture will change ?
D. O.: I believe there is a new and contagious freedom spreading through young African creatives in their sense of expression… without the censorship we’ve been accustomed to in past decades. I believe in the future we will explore African heritage in more depth as well as delve into more uncomfortable discourses we’ve been known to shy away from. I believe art will increasingly embrace differences and creative mediums will feature more progressive ideologies and tolerance to social issues. This refreshing approach will be promoted by many young creatives in the coming years and Africa will contribute even more to art globally.
An article by Nadine Hounkpatin
Featured image : Dafe Oboro, “A Beautiful Struggle” 2019.
This article was written for The Art Momentum | Cape Town Art Fair Artpaper 2020.
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