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HD849/75 (Abebe)

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Nigeria (photographed)
    Paris (printed)

  • Date:

    1975 (photographed)
    2012 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ojeikere, J. D. 'Okhai (Mr), born 1930 - died 2014 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund

  • Museum number:

    E.231-2013

  • Gallery location:

    Photography Centre, Room 101, The Sir Elton John and David Furnish Gallery, case WEST WALL

Nigerian photographer J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere (1930-2014) is best known for his photographs documenting a range of traditional and modern hairstyles worn by Nigerian women. He began the series in 1968 while travelling across the country with the Nigerian Arts Council, which was established to promote national culture following Nigerian independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

In the Yoruba language spoken in Southwest Nigeria ‘Abebe’ describes a type of hand fan. The Abebe hairstyle mimics the weave pattern of these circular fans and would be worn for special events. Ojeikere credited this example of the style to ‘Elegant Twin Sisters, Lagos’.

Over the course of his life Ojeikere recorded almost a thousand hairstyles, each photographed using the same format. He always included a close range rear view perspective, which illustrated his belief that the styles were ‘sculptures for a day’. The series is of historic and anthropological significance, as well as aesthetic value.

The V&A acquired eight photographs by J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere documenting hairstyles and headties 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 black and white photograph of a black woman's hairstyle seen from the back. The hairstyle is braided close to the head in a pattern which fans out from a central point. The ends of the braids are positioned on top of the head tumbling down in curls onto the scalp below. The woman wears dangling earrings and a beaded necklace. The photograph is taken from the neck upwards against a plain white background.

Place of Origin

Nigeria (photographed)
Paris (printed)

Date

1975 (photographed)
2012 (printed)

Artist/maker

Ojeikere, J. D. 'Okhai (Mr), born 1930 - died 2014 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print

Dimensions

Width: 30 cm paper, Height: 30 cm image, Width: 38 cm paper, Height: 38 cm paper

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 J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, 'HD-849/75 (Abebe)', from the series Hairstyles, gelatin silver print, Nigeria, 1975, printed 2012

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Illustrated on page 18 and discussed on page 155 as follows, 'Page 18 ABEBE This style is named after a hand fan because it looks like one. Worn for special events. Courtesy of Elegant Twin Sisters, Lagos HD 844/75'
J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere/Photographs Zurich; Berlin; New York: Scalo, 2000

Labels and date

Text label for the exhibition, 'Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s-1990s
16 February – 24 May 2015

J.D. ’Okhai Ojeikere (1930 – 2014)
HD-849/75 (Abebe); HD-176/70 (Fro Fro);
HD-14/69 (Pineapple); HD-557/74 (Beri Beri)
From the series Hairstyles
1969 – 75
Untitled, HG 423-04; Untitled, HG-535-04;
Untitled, HG-457-04; Untitled, HG-689-05
From the series Headties
2004 – 5
In these photographs, Ojeikere documented traditional
and modern hairstyles and headties worn by Nigerian
women. He photographed his subjects using the same
rear view perspective, focusing on the intricate patterns
and shapes created by the hair and fabric. Ojeikere’s
photographs capture the artistry of the forms, which
he described as ‘sculptures for a day’.

Gelatin silver prints
Museum nos. E.227 to 234-2013 [16/02/2015-24/05/2015]
Photography Centre, 2018-20:

J.D. ’Okhai Ojeikere (1930–2014)
HD-849/75 (Abebe)
HD-176/70 (Fro Fro)
HD-14/69 (Pineapple)
HD-557/74 (Beri Beri)
From the series Hairstyles
1969–75

Ojeikere documented traditional and modern hairstyles worn by Nigerian women. He photographed his subjects using a consistent rear view perspective, focusing on the intricate patterns and shapes created by the hair. Ojeikere’s photographs capture the artistry of the forms, which he described as ‘sculptures for a day’.

Gelatin silver prints
Museum nos. E.231 to 234-2013 []

Production Note

This photograph was printed in Paris from the original negative, then sent to Nigeria for approval, then shipped to London

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Gelatin silver process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Necklace; Jewellery; Hairstyles; Plaits; Earrings

Categories

Photographs; African Diaspora; Fashion; Hair and hairstyles; Fans

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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