Category Archives: Event

Recap: SUPAFRIK at FNLROM

Thank you for joining us at Royal Ontario Museum earlier this February as we programmed and activated some spaces for their #FNLROM Black History Month Special. We converted the Rotunda into “The Afro Lounge” and Bronfman Hall became “SUPAFRIK Central”.

The Afro Lounge: Designer Chinedu Ukabam invited FNLROM guests to the coolest new spot in town, “The Afro Lounge” where they could order Suya, grab a drink, and play the African strategy game Oware(also called Ayo or Mancala). There was also a dressing room in the back to try on exclusive pieces from ILU, his unreleased Chinedesign summer collection inspired by Igbo proverbs from Nigeria and the ROM exhibition Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana. Photographer Jalani Morgan was on hand to capture images for an interactive lookbook edited by Maz Osman. You can find the look-book we created on our page.

SUPAFRIK Central: To bring the #SUPAFRIK effect to the ROM,we assembled an art-dance-food party. It featured some new talent like ADL dance crew as well as frequent collaborators like Golden Stool Restaurant (whose Jollof rice was sold out before 10pm!), DJ Revy B and DJ Deemaks, who debuted a live Afrobeats video mix. By the time the spontaneous electric slide broke out in the middle of an Afro house set, it was clear that this was one of the best FNLROMs yet!

Stay tuned for what we have coming up in spring!

GUMBO coming to Montreal!

MONTREAL! Gumbo is back again by popular demand! Thank you for making our debut in Summer 16  a smash! Use code SUPAFRIK for $5 off here:  http://GumboMTL.eventbrite.ca

We’re coming with a top DJ in the Afrobeats scene: Deemaks. He’ll be joined by Toronto vet DJ Sean Sax and MTL hometown heroes Mr. Toure (Qualite De Luxe) and Bonbon Kojak(Moonshine). Together they will chop it down and mash it up to create a very special edition of the Afro GUMBO mix. It’s carnival season from Brazil to New Orleans to Trinidad so get ready for bacchanal! Tell a friend to bring a friend to the most anticipated international party coming to Montreal! Brought to you in partnership with Fockus, CME and Oasis MTL.

Use code SUPAFRIK for $5 off here:  http://GumboMTL.eventbrite.ca

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Here’s a flashback to our first time in Montreal (Gumbo 5) with DJ Camron, Sean Sax, Mr. Toure and Don Barbarino. Pure vibes! If you were there you already know. If you were not, come see for yourself at the next one! We are looking forward to rocking with the MTL fam again!

GUMBO Choreographer: Esie Mensah

SUPAFRIK and Shaman are bringing our popular GUMBO party to the Royal Ontario Museum for their Friday Night Live series, followed by an after party at Tattoo. The night will start with Afrofusion dance lessons lead by some of the best dancers in the city – Esie Mensah and Pulga Muchochoma. We asked them a bit about what they love to get to know them a bit better before they make us sweat on February 5! First up, Esie Mensah.

Esie Mensah
Esie Mensah is a dancer who is trained in several disciplines – Traditional African, Commercial, and Contemprorary dance. She’s created her own unique style, Afrofusion, which is an amalgamation of her entire dance background. She’s the founder, director, and choreographer of the Black Stars – an elite Afrofusion dance group based in Toronto. She produced a show, Akomathat ran a the Betty Oliphant Theatre between October 30 to November 1 2015, and has worked with some of the music industries largest stars – JaNelle Monae, Nelly Furtado, Jully Black, Flo Rida, Mariana’s Trench, and most recently, Mr. Vegas.
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1. Why do you think African dance has become increasingly popular?
I think there’s been a major shift within this generations of Africans on the continent and Diaspora. I feel that all Africans everywhere are wanting to just show off a culture that has had no love. The things we do naturally are getting glorified which is making everyone everywhere feel proud to be African.
2. What are your top five favourite songs to dance to?
Hmm…
  • Timaya – Sanko
  • Ola – Olatunji
  • Black Coffee – Superman
  • Chop Am – Reekado Banks
  • Shoki – Kesh ft Davido

3. Share a clip with us of you dancing!

4. Where can people find you in the city? 
Follow me on twitter and instagram @esiemensah!
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Behind the Scenes at Style and Profile!

We can’t believe that Chinedu Ukabam’s Style and Profile is just about coming to a close. Tonight, the SUPAFRIK fam will be at the Come Up To My Room Love Design Party to celebrate our hard work and long nights. Chinedu partnered up with Gregorio Jimenez from Honour Carpentry to create some amazing pieces for Style and Profile. Here’s a look back on a few moments (out of the countless hours!) spent putting it all together. The show is still on until Sunday evening – if you’re in Toronto and haven’t checked it out already, make sure that you do!

 

 

Where We Spend Our Late Nights: BAND Gallery

It’s been a busy start to the year for SUPAFRIK. We’re just about to wrap Chinedu Ukabam’s installation at Come Up To My Room, Style and Profile, and jump right into getting ready for Water Carry Me Go. None of our planning, plotting, and scheming would have been possible without our outstanding sponsors at Black Artists’ Network Dialogue (BAND) Gallery who have generously opened up their studio space for us. They’re dedicated to highlighting and supporting the work of Black artists and cultural workers in Toronto, and are, in a nutshell, pretty dope. Here’s an introduction:

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What is the Band Gallery Mandate?

BAND Gallery and Cultural Centre is dedicated to developing emerging and mid-career professional artists and arts administrators by providing an accessible venue to showcase artists’ work and to present Black cultural community events and programs to the general public.

What is coming up in the space?

We have two main events coming up in the next few months.

The first is Black History Month Programming 2016 happening from February 11th to March 6th entitled “50 years of Creating Safe Spaces: From The Rent Party to Club Night.” This interactive exhibition will bring music, videos, photography and dance together to document safe spaces. This exhibition will include the photography of Ian Watson along with the archival promotional posters of Hot Steppers who bring us Bump and Hustle.

The second is the Scotiabank CONTACT Festival happening from April 28th to May 29th. In partnership with Autograph ABP,BAND presents the first solo exhibition in Canada by the celebrated African photographer James Barnor, showcasing a wide selection of street and studio portraiture from the 1950s to the early 1970s. Through the medium of portraiture, Barnor’s photographs represent societies in transition: Ghana moving towards its independence from colonial rule and London becoming a cosmopolitan, multicultural metropolis during the ‘swinging’ sixties.

How can artists in the community get involved with BAND Gallery?

We have opportunities for people in the community to get involved at the gallery as volunteers. Volunteers are responsible for gallery maintenance and guest relations, with an emphasis on educating and exhibiting. If interested please send cover letter and resume to Paula Kennedy at admin@band-rand.com.

 

To the BAND team from SUPAFRIK: Thanks for all of your support!

Water Carry Me Go Artist Profile: Carol Barreto (Brazil)

In anticipation of the fashion-art exhibit Water Carry Me Go, we’ve created a series introducing all of the designers involved. Read the rest of them here.

Carol Barreto – Brazil

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Carol Barreto is a black feminist woman and fashion designer from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Carol is a Professor and PhD student at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA). She has been showing her collections in runway shows since 2001. In 2013, Carol was invited to represent Brazil at Dakar Fashion Week. In 2015, she presented her “VOZES Collection: Fashion and Ancestries” in the fourth edition of the Black Fashion Week in Paris – she was the first Black fashion designer from Brazil to present a collection at a fashion event in the city. We’re proud to introduce Carol as one of the featured artists in Water Carry Me Go.

1) How did you approach the theme of water for your piece in Water Carry Me Go?

For Water Carry Me Go, I reemployed my research about Yemoja, a Yoruba spirit who is considered to be the mother of all Orishas, that I had initially conducted for an earlier collection of mine titled Fluxus Collection. Fluxus centred on the African Diaspora and was a provocation for viewers to think over the social value of contemporaneity between Afro-diasporans across the world. Using my findings, I created a conceptual garment for Water Carry Me Go that is connected to Mami Wata, a mermaid Goddess that reoccurs in oral traditions throughout Africa and the Caribbean. Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion that developed among communities brought from West Africa as slaves, carries within it one of the most popular Orishas (‘orixás’ in Latin America), Yemanjá. The personage of Yemanjá originally comes from ancient Yoruba mythology about Yemoja; she is the goddess of the ocean.

According to the spiritual outlines of Candomblé, Yemonjá represents the essence of motherhood. Every year in February, thousands of Yemanjá devotees participate in a colourful celebration in honor of the Queen of the Sea. At the end of the ceremony, offerings are thrown to the water by local fishermen, and a massive street party ensues—I live on the street where this takes place. Yemanjá is widely worshipped throughout Latin America, including in the south of Brazil, Uruguay, Cuba and Haiti, but the strongest and the most popular cult is maintained in my hometown of Bahia, in Black Brazilians’ hearts and culture. My personal Orisha is Yemanjá.

2) What motivated you to be involved in this project?

I was motivated by Water Carry Me Go’s potential to push forward our struggle against racism and to act as a vehicle of resistance for Black diasporas who have been subject to European colonialism and neo-colonialism. The theme of the exhibit, water, has been and continues to be a vehicle for our dispersion and a source of our mythologies, and is a salient theme in our identity as Black diasporans. Additionally, by showcasing our cultures and speaking about our contemporary identities in the Black diaspora, we are working against a tradition of colonization that continues—the marginalization and erasure of our cultures. Being invited to participate in Water Carry Me Go is an opportunity for me to take part in this discussion as well as pay homage to my favourite Orisha, Yemanjá. It is my first time exhibiting my clothing designs at a museum and an art gallery. Fashion is usually perceived as functional, never artistic. I get to work with an interesting team an an honourable production staff during an important month of commemoration, where I also get to celebrate my presence as a Black, Brazilian, Feminist Woman.

3) What does your workspace look like right now? Is there anything else you want to add?

My atelier is currently divided in two cities. Maria Viana, my seamstress, is working in Lauro de Freitas (Bahia, Brazil) and Juliana Fonseca, my accessory designer, is working in Cruz das Almas (Bahia, Brazil). Both of them were my students at fashion design university, and we have a lot of experience working together. We have created samples in an attempt to be as close to our conceptual proposal as possible, and we’re working hard to get the dress finished!

Inspiration: Futurustic-Nostalgic Hairstyles in Anticipation of #StylenProfile16

SUPAFRIK’s Creative Director, Chinedu Ukabam, is transforming the bathroom at the Gladstone hotel into anode to Afro-pop art and the distinct aesthetic of barbershops across Africa. He’s one of the featured designers at the hotel’s annual Come Up To My Room design event, where artists are given free reign to transform areas of the hotel into immersive installations. Imagine a (futuristic!) nostalgic alternate dimension dedicated to hair and its capacity to shape, mold, and coiffe identity; his exhibit, “Style and Profile”, is exactly that.

Hair. Wouldn’t it be interesting to look inside the heads of Black men and women and see how our brains respond to a simple mention of the world, or is it just us? Hair is a powerful component in our experience.  Chinedu Ukabam was inspired by the fact that, for many, walking into barbershops provides the opportunity for them to pick an identity—haircuts that promise to turn wearers into Lumumba‘s or Private Eye‘s, or more recently, The Weeknd—and of course, to debate and disseminate today’s hottest topics.

In “Style and Profile”, Ukabam has created a barbershop that takes the shaping of identities very seriously, and very literally. It’s a futuristic comment on the ways in which people have chosen to portray themselves, especially via social media. If hairstyles were all we had before, lighting and angles filter the images we depict today; notwithstanding a stream of selfies reflecting bathroom mirrors and the caricature we most identify with.

Oh, how we see ourselves…

So, while The Lumumba might still be your look of choice, such cuts are an accessory to the multi-dimensional narratives in our virtual timelines.

Chinedu Ukabam’s Style ‘n Profile exhilarates our senses in a captivating installation at the Gladstone Hotel from January 21-24. Below, you have some African pop-cultural references inspiring the themes running across the thread of his art…

Which one is most you? From The Prince to The Flattop, The Executive to Suave, insta-choose the look that is most you! Most true. Most new. most astute.

As we reminisce, isn’t it profound to see the return of old styles and the periods in which they’ve come back? From Lumumba’s iconic part, to the Weeknd’s rather wicked renaissance of the Mini Dread.

Now talk about futuristic nostalgia! Here we have a Rwandan man with an Amasunzu hairstyle circa 1923. What name would you give for this style if it was one of the options in the first image?

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Oh ladies, how varying the styles can be! So much to choose from.

 

Artist Chinedu Ukabam used various pop-culture references as inspiration for his installation.

Come and join us for a once in a lifetime barbershop experience at the Gladstone Hotel from January 21st – 24th. Pre-purchase your tickets at Eventbrite here. Join the conversation online with the hashtag #StylenProfile16.

By: Daniella Kalinda