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Ragga Crouching

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    England (photographed)

  • Date:

    1993 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Baptiste, Jennie, born 1971 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    C-type print

  • Credit Line:

    Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

  • Museum number:

    E.973-2010

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case SP, shelf 4

Jennie Baptiste’s photographs explore fashion and style as expressions of black British identity, often with a focus on music culture. She was born in Northwest London in 1971, after her parents moved to the city from St. Lucia in the 1960s.

Ragga music originated in Jamaica in the 1980s, building on dancehall and reggae styles by using electronic music and sampling linked to both hip hop and dance music trends. The music style became popular in Britain during the 1990s when it was increasingly fused with hip hop. The influence of Ragga is credited with popularising dancehall music with which it shares many features, including styles of dancing and female dress. Female ragga dancers typically wear elaborate, colourful costumes, which are often hand-embellished.

The V&A acquired four photographs by Jennie Baptiste as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.

Physical description

A colour photograph of a young black woman dancing against a dark blue background. She is in a crouched position seen sideways on with her head titled, as she moves her hands in front of her. She wears shorts and a crop top both of which are made of purple velvet with tassle fringing. She has darker purple tights on underneath the shorts with a band of gold sequins around the leg in full view. She wears a variety of jewellery, including large gold rings on every finger of her left hand. She also has a gold dollar sign earring mirroring the dollar sign shaved onto the side of her head. The long exposure of the photograph means that a blur is created mimicking her movements.

Place of Origin

England (photographed)

Date

1993 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Baptiste, Jennie, born 1971 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

C-type print

Dimensions

Height: 40.64 cm image, Width: 30.48 cm image

Object history note

The V&A acquired this photograph as part of the Staying Power project. Staying Power is a five year partnership between the V&A and Black Cultural Archives. The project aims to explore black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s through photographs acquired by the V&A and oral histories conducted by Black Cultural Archives.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Jennie Baptiste, 'Ragga Crouching', C-type print, 1993

Labels and date

Baptiste's photographs explore fashion and style as expressions of black British identity. Here, low-slung jeans and flaunted designer labels are shown alongside the colourful, hand-embellished costumes associated with Ragga, a form of reggae music. Both styles show off the body, highlighting the wearer's masculinity or femininity. Two of the photographs capture the movements of a woman dancing to Ragga music, while the more static portrait of a woman named Pinky shows how personal style can extend to interiors as well as dress. [83 words] [2011]

Production Note

First edition print

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

C-type process

Subjects depicted

Dancing; Jewellery; Identity; Femininity; Velvet; Dollars; Purple; Fashion; Black female

Categories

Photographs; African Diaspora; Dance; Women's clothes

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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