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MADE YOU LOOK|Dandyism and Black Masculinity

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Article by Constantinos Moraitakis
Posted on July 20th, 2016
in Art & Dandyism and Black Masculinity

Opening at The Photographers' Gallery, the exhibition ‘Made You Look: Dandyism and Black Masculinity’ consists of a selection of photographs from a range of time periods and locations. Shown together, the images work to explore the theme of black masculinity, particularly through the adoption and appropriation of the persona of the dandy.

Traditionally referring to a man unduly devoted to appearing stylish and refined, in the context of this exhibition the persona takes on a more political significance, made all the more poignant by the current political climate.
Today, black men are some of the most influential forces in style across the world, though they also make up one of the most vulnerable demographics, evidenced most recently by the disproportionate rates of arrest for black men in both the UK and USA.

In these photographs, the flamboyance of the subjects’ dress challenges the traditional perception of the black male as a persecuted and objectified individual. With their exuberant and flamboyant apparel, these men’s appropriation of the dandy character signifies a refusal to conform to the stereotype of the persecuted individual history has dealt them.
‘Made You Look: Dandyism and Black Masculinity’ is on view until 25 September.

Pictured: Wayne Swart, by Kristin-Lee Moolman