Category Archives: Fashion

Mr. Eazi: A Man in his Moment

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Almost two weeks later, the city is still buzzing with talk of Mr. Eazi’s epic Toronto show. There are a few video clips floating online that might approximate the experience but it was certainly one of those “you had to be there” moments.   By the time his 16 song run of back to back hits had concluded, the rising Afrobeats star had made it clear that if his time had not already arrived before, it had certainly arrived NOW. Shedding off his usually laid-back stage demeanour, Mr. Eazi energetically attacked his performance like a man possessed with purpose. He utilized every inch of the massive stage at Rebel, at times walking on the thin side walls separating the VIP section and then finally wading through the almost 1500 strong crowd just to “feel what the vibe felt like in the middle”.

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Backed by a DJ, a 6 -piece band and a trio of dancers, Mr. Eazi commanded the crowd like a seasoned veteran. At times it was easy to forget that the “Skintight” single that catapulted him onto the radar of the burgeoning Afrobeats scene (in Nigeria/Ghana/UK) was only released in 2015. How many times have you seen a performance with a relatively new artist where every single song in his set gets the full “sing along” from the crowd? Despite his somewhat defensive insistence that he was not a “singer”, Mr. Eazi has nothing to worry about his vocal performance going forward if his shows remain at this high energy level where he sounds best. This was not his first live show of this magnitude but it was certainly one of his top ones. The Toronto performance seemed to mark a turning point from being reluctantly thrust into the spotlight to boldly and believably owning every second of the moment. The concert concluded with a long awaited performance of his summer smash “Leg Over” and then quickly pivoted into a big after-party in the nightclub upstairs. With Mr. Eazi staying on as the party’s host and hype man, the night ended on a euphoric high note long after the 2am last call had been announced. Toronto’s “Summer of Afrobeats” had found its crowning moment.

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Mr. Eazi’s morning the day of the show had started out on a low key note. When we met up with the artist at his suite in the King Edward Hotel to take him out for an exclusive photoshoot, we found him sitting on the carpeted floor, slouched against the wall, trying to stave off the jet lag and tour exhaustion with a tall cup of coffee. We had expected to find him in a celebratory mood. Just two days prior, he had been announced as Apple’s coveted “Up Next” artist of the month. His image was already gracing Apple billboards around the world and he had just performed on the Late Late Show with James Corden. After cornering the Afrobeats market as its second most streamed artist, Mr. Eazi was about to become known to an even wider demographic: potentially all 27 million subscribers of Apple Music. He had every good reason to pop champagne at 11am if he so desired but his mind was already elsewhere: two steps ahead plotting how to maximize the opportunity. We observed his pensive mood and decided to shoot him in that intimate moment rather than force our original vision.

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As he tried on different outfits for the shoot, phone calls kept pouring in from friends calling to congratulate him on his moves: “Chale, I just dey watch your instagram and it’s like wow!”. There were also business calls. There seemed to be a lot of things in motion and Mr. Eazi was certainly hands on with his career. When the shoot was over, I had a chance to talk to him about his career and the future of Afrobeats: a genre whose DNA is already being grafted into songs on the pop-charts without the involvement of African artists themselves.  He was appreciative of the attention his music was getting but was under no delusion nor apprehension about the hard work it would take to reach his full potential especially outside Africa. So why not just sign to a major label? Labels have been sniffing around almost since the beginning of his career but him and his team have a long term strategy. “The machine” still had it’s use but they have come so far without it, they had the liberty to pick and choose which cog of the machine they wanted working for them. It was refreshing to hear.

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We strolled up Yonge St and made a detour through the Apple store so he could pick up a charger for his MacBook. Some of the blue-shirted staff stared at him as we walked around the store. We were both puzzled as to what was going until one of them pointed at one of the display iMacs which was a running a video loop of Apple “Up Next” artists. He explained that Mr. Eazi was featured as the default screen on devices across Apple’s 498 stores in 22 countries. Big! Before he was ferried off to his rehearsal for the night’s show, I remarked that 2017 had been his best year so far. He was quiet for a moment, perhaps weighing his present status against his vision for the future then he smiled and replied “Ehn? You think so? Just wait for 2018!”

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Words/Styling/Direction: Chinedu Ukabam for SUPAFRIK
Photography: SoTeeOh
All clothing: Chinedesign (except artist’s own black pants)
Accessories: Papaya & Co (Ankara Tie and pocket square), Bohten (all glasses)

Note: SUPAFRIK was a co-presenter for Mr. Eazi’s Toronto show “Life is Eazi”. More photos from the shoot can be found on the Chinedesign facebook page here: Also check out the official mixtape of Mr. Eazi’s Toronto stop.  Compiled and mixed by DJ Revy B, The Eazi Motion Mixtape is a quick 25 minute intro the sounds of Mr. Eazi.

 

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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!

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!

SUPAFRIK Takes Over Toronto To Kick Off the New Year!

Happy New Year!

We hope your 2016 ring-in was filled with love, laughter, and lots of Afrobeats. On our end, we’ve been quietly working towards getting ready to kick in SUPAFRIK’s 2016 debut, and it’s looking to be a great. We have linked up with some of the marquee institutions in Toronto, and we’re planning on sprinkling contemporary Africana fairy-dust everywhere we go. Keep reading to find out more!

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January 21-24 | Gladstone Hotel | 1214 Queen St. W, Toronto |
‘Style & Profile’ at Come Up to My Room 
SUPAFRIK Founder Chinedu Ukabam has been selected as a featured artist at “Come Up to My Room” at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St W). In case you aren’t familiar, it’s the biggest alternative design festival in Toronto. The hotel invites artists and designers to transform rooms and spaces into a world of their own. Chinedu’s installation, “Style and Profile”, is an ode to Afro-Pop-Art. It is inspired by African barbershops and explores notions of identity in all its seriousness and absurdity. He will be creating original prints and mixed media artwork, and collaborating on some furniture designs with his old friend and man of many woods Gregorio Jimenez. We’re inviting you all to come up to HIS room. PS: The big reception party is on the Saturday 23rd.

Exhibition Admission:
$10 | General admission (per day)
$25 | School groups book tours with lukus@gladstonehotel.com.
$5 | Student day on Jan 22  (with student id)

February 5 | Royal Ontario Museum | Water Carry Me Go @ Royal Ontario Museum Friday Night Live and Kuumba
This one, we’re super excited about! Water Carry Me Go is a fashion-art exhibition featuring seven African and Afro-diasporic designers from Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, UK and of course, Canada. Each designer is creating an avant-garde garment for the show.  The unique exhibit will centre on the theme of water, an element that connects Africa and its Diasporas in a multitude of ways—as a passage, a cause of displacement and the origin of mythology. The show aims to dismantle artificial distinctions between fashion and art.  We could not have done this without the support of TD Bank, Seven Continents, and Honour Carpentry. “Water Carry Me Go” will first debut as a performance art piece with “live” mannequins during the Royal Ontario Museum’s Friday Night Live, before being permanently installed at the Harbourfront Centre’s Architectural Gallery from February 6-12 for their Kuumba festivalLearn more about the artists here!

Exhibition Admission:
ROM Friday Night Live | Tickets can be purchased at this link
Kuumba @ Harbourfront Centre| Admission is free for everyone.

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February 5 | Royal Ontario Museum | GUMBO #4 @FNLROM + Tattoo
GUMBO is back, this time at 2 locations! The ROM will be hosting the 4th edition of the popular GUMBO music series that Chinedu and Wan Luv started last summer. The first party was at Caribana. The last party took us to New Orleans. This time, we’re pulling out all the stops for Carnival time. First, it’ll start it off as a public dance class with renowned choreographers Esie Mensah and Pulga Cesar Muchochoma with music by DJ Revy B to get you up to speed with all the latest dances from Africa and the Caribbean. Then, it’ll morph into an intense Afrobeats/Afrohouse Soca Reggae dance party with Deemaks, Sean Sax, and Donet at Tattoo (567 Queen Street West).

Exhibition Admission:
ROM Friday Night Live | Tickets can be purchased at this link
GUMBO After party | gumbo4.eventbrite.ca

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We’ll be updating you all with more information leading up to the event! Be sure to follow us on Instagram @SUPAFRIK and on Twitter @Chinedesign. If you have any questions, email hawa@SUPAFRIK.com.

 

 

 

Help Wanted! Apply Within.

We are looking for interns and volunteers to work on some exciting projects we have lined up for 2016 in the Toronto area. If you have an affinity for contemporary African culture and a passion for fashion or the arts, we have some awesome opportunities that you will definitely be interested in. You can find more information on the paid internships and volunteer positions below.
 
1) Communications Intern (1 position)
2) Studio Manager /Artist Assistant Intern (2 positions)
3) General Volunteers (3 positions)
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To Apply:
1. Research past events such as Afrotropolis Wonderland, MasqueradeTO, Palattes of Africa and The (Re)Generator Project to get a feel for the tone and scope of the projects that we produce.
2. Send an email to Lucy@supafrik.com with your resume and cover letter outlining what you bring to the table and what you hope to gain from the experience. Be sure to indicate with position or positions you are applying for.
3. Feel free to put some thought/creativity into your application but hurry! Deadline is December 23! Good luck!
 
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Position: Communications Intern
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Key Responsibilities:
Act as social media liaison. This will involve but is not limited to:
* Documenting the work in progress of the artists working on the projects
* Generating original content around the various projects

* Sending out personalized email PR blasts to blogs

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SUPAFRIK NOLA! A recap of Pop-Up #8 in New Orleans.

Two weeks ago we went down to New Orleans, Louisiana to set up shop for the eight edition of SUPAFRIK. It was an amazing experience worthy of a few thousand words. Instead here’s a hundred or so pictures instead of New Orleanians experiencing SUPAFRIK and us experiencing New Orleans. SUPAFRIK Weekend was a blast and we are already planning to do it again (join the FB page and stay tuned). To the beautiful people of New Orleans and the village that it took to make this happen: Thank you!

Words by Chinedu Ukabam | Photos by Aden Abebe

The beautiful Joan Mitchell Center where we lived, worked and played for the duration of our trip

The beautiful Joan Mitchell Center where we lived, worked and played for the duration of our trip

Thanks to the students from State University New Orlean's Museum Studies program. They were the best install we could have asked for. Erika Evans, Maya Mathews and Kazim Oyewuwo

Thanks to the students from State University New Orlean’s Museum Studies program. They were the best install we could have asked for. Erika Evans, Maya Mathews and Kazim Oyewuwo

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We passed through a cool event put on by DOPEciety called "Couches". It's like bringing the coolest cutting edge bands into your living room to jam just for you. They transformed the space at PORT beautifully to fit with the theme. A few days later we used this same space to throw our GUMBO dance party.

We passed through a cool event put on by DOPEciety called “Couches”. It’s like bringing the coolest cutting edge bands into your living room to jam just for you. They transformed the space at PORT beautifully to fit with the theme. A few days later we used this same space to throw our GUMBO dance party.

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