J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Photographs

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No other aspect of fashion is as fleeting and ephemeral as hairstyles. Whereas we might ponder the length of hemlines and the fabric du jour, hair often escapes the passionate fashionista's fastidious and discerning gaze. J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere (born 1930), who worked as an advertising photographer for most of his life, has documented the hairstyles of his native Nigeria in painstaking detail for over thirty years. Plaited, braided, in buns, in towering tresses: In Ojeikere's photographs hair reveals its sculptural qualities. His deceptively simple, classically composed photographs display hairstyles as a sheer play of forms-minimal, abstract, transient artworks. But Ojeikere's photographs do not merely purvey aesthetic pleasures. They provide and unexpected insight into Nigerian culture. Detailed captions tell us by whom and for which occasion a particular hairdo was worn, leading the reader into a previously unfamiliar social milieu. In an exhaustive text Ojeikere recounts his life as a photographer, giving us a glimpse of the nascent African mass media culture of the 60's and 70's.