Behind the lens with Teddy Mitchener | 2nd – 12th February Conceptual/ fine art photographer

art exhibition in Dubai

Disappearing Africa

“One of the most serious mistakes, if not the most serious mistake, made by the colonial powers in Africa, may have been to ignore or underestimate the cultural strength of the African people. Evidence shows how strongly the African resisted the attempts of both the colonialists and the missionary to dehumanize and obliterate their cultural identity. These outsiders failed to realize that as long as a people can have a cultural life, foreign domination cannot be sure of its perpetuation” ~ by Emmanuel Martey.

The erosion and domination of African people was not going to come via use of force of arms or theological indoctrination; it was going to come through the backdoor with the insidious creep of ideas through global media, Hollywood and the new bogeyman called social media. Our world is now a suffocating small village where we are ruled by the headlines and the number of Likes and Shares and Trends one can muster.

We are witnessing the death of originality, the death of authenticity and the cheapening of information and communication. We are witnessing the slow erosion of our own true African selves and what held for millennia is slowly passing away in the face of modernization, and with the least amount of resistance.

This creative concept was birthed during a photo-shoot of the ethnographic collection of African masks at the Cultural Heritage Centre in Arusha, Tanzania, and is presented to showcase conceptually, the cultural erosion that we are witnessing among the so-called millennials and within the public discourse.

This series is an artistic depiction of actual masks, interpreted through the lens of Disappearing Africa.

Body fruit

Women have been represented by shapes since humans first scribbled on cave walls. Spheres are used to symbolize the roundness of pregnancy and circuity of life. The triangle has long stood for the Woman and Goddess, a symbol for water and intuition. More recently, women’s bodies have been called pear and apple-shaped by doctors describing rotund tummies in order to convey health risks or benefits to patients, and by the health industry urging women to streamline their shapes—and pay for it with specialized workouts, weight loss regimens or clothing.

Geometric classification is common in the fashion industry to design clothing for women of a variety of shapes. Sizes are based on the bust-hip-waist (BHW) ratio and shapes are based on studies of our proportions.

Of course there is always the shape that the media thinks “ideal.” In the Western world, fashionable form has morphed throughout history from fertile to famished. A geometric timeline of ideal bodies would feature apples, pears, triangles, rectangles, lines and hourglasses.

In ancient Greece and Rome, artistic renderings of women were tubular and voluptuous. In the 1990s, androgynous rectangles popped those hip-bones, while the busty inverted triangle rang in the 2000s.

J-Lo and Shakira brought back bottom-heavy, and now we’re in hourglass mode, with Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and a whole hoard of Instagram models breaking the internet with their thick, curvy bodies.

Body fruit is a celebration of all the shapes that a woman’s body represents. Women’s bodies are fresh, tangy, bitter, juicy, sweet, sour, hard, soft and unpredictable, and much like fruit, they change with the seasons and contain the seeds of life. 

About the Artist

Teddy Mitchener b.1972 is based in Nairobi Kenya. A Washington DC native, Teddy is a self-taught photographer, having picked up his first camera in 1992 under the tutelage of his father, Willie Brown. A fully fledged professional photographer.

For Teddy, photography is simply one of the many mediums he uses to express his creativity. A graduate of The Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Teddy credits the institution with broadening the limits of his creativity and instilling in him the love of other art forms such as plaster and stone sculpting, wood work, pencil drawing and painting.

The merging of these mediums is what now informs Teddy’s personal projects and inspires his creative photography concepts.

“I picked up photography initially as a means to an end, to capture imagery that I wanted to sculpt, draw or paint, then along the way I found that my love for photography was deepening. It was however not until I relocated to Nairobi in 2009 that I became a fully-fledged photographer.” Today, Teddy specializes in Commercial and Corporate photography and is a CANON trainer for the Africa region.

Teddy’s desire to elevate his craft and that of fellow photographers within the region has seen him found and publish, in April 2015, a one-of-a-kind magazine called African Photo Magazine.

For further information about the exhibition and press kit email: lidija@akkaproject.com or call +971567481638.

About Akka Project

Exploring brave new art and cultural initiatives, AKKA Project presents multidimensional exhibitions and immersive art experiences. We focus on contemporary art, in all its various forms, and building on our solid experience in the international art world, we painstakingly source and select the most fascinating emerging artists from across the globe.

The aim is to go beyond the usual one-dimensional offering expected of an art gallery; and instead present dynamic exhibitions which are accompanied by vibrant and spirited cultural occasions: to elevate the gallery setting, with a depth and pulsating energy, that creates holistic and multi-sensory experiences.

Whilst the artists we work with are not limited by geography or methodology, AKKA Project pays special attention to the art from Africa and its diaspora. We are committed to promoting emerging African artists.