SAMUEL FOSSO: 70'S Lifestyle

3 - 26 March 2022

Samuel Fosso (born 1962, Cameroon) opened his photographic studio in Bangui, Central African Republic, at the age of 13.  During the day he ran a commercial studio, photographing the local residents, while at night he turned his studio into a theatrical set to create highly performative black and white self-portraits.  In this liberated space he experimented with representations of gender, sexuality, masculinity and fashion. Often surrounded by studio props as well as painted urban backdrops, he depicted himself in a variety of guises - wearing high- waisted flared or tasselled trousers, glossy platform boots and heart engraved or aviator shades. Dressing himself in this way can be read as an act of rebellion against the strict dress codes of the time, which saw the prohibition of tight-fitting clothes. 

These carefully staged portraits of the mid-70s allowed the teenage Fosso to work with invented characters while at the same time emphasizing his own presence, as he says: `When you look at my works, it’s my body that is looking at me.  It’s my way of seeing’.