BAHM: 2.24.17 Omar Victor Diop
Omar Victor Diop (b. 1980, Dakar) is a photographer based in Dakar, Senegal. In his photographic series, Diop explores visual representations of African figures, both modern and historical, with references to fashion, sports culture and the legacy of West African portraiture. His first series, Le Futur de Beau, was featured in the Pan African exhibition at the 2011 Biennale of Photography in Bamako, Mali. He has since exhibited his work throughout Europe, Africa and the U.S. One of his newer series and first solo exhibition, Project Diaspora, is currently on view at SCAD Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA through August 20, 2017.
Project Diaspora is a series of 18 self-portraits, embellished with subtle details and vibrant palettes. They reimagine iconic European and Asian paintings from the 15th to 19th century that depict prominent African figures in their unique positions abroad. Research for the project began during a residency in Málaga, Spain, where Diop found himself, “immersed in the reality of being a stranger,” and became interested in the Baroque period of increased contact between Africa and the world. The inclusion of sports objects and memorabilia is an interesting intervention into these canonical portraits, highlighting similarities in the experiences of professional African athletes in Europe and the historical figures pictured. Both are prominent public figures, that are at once, revered and marginalized as Other. Diop’s “intrigue of the singular destinies of travellers and those in alien environments,” characterizes the experience of Africans in diaspora and the impact of globalization in shaping the perspectives of these individuals. Utilizing studio portraiture, Diop’s work is situated in conversation with predecessors Malick Sidibé, Seydou Keïta and J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, among others, that have shaped the visual language of African modernity while also revisiting and intervening in prevailing Eurocentric histories. Project Diaspora unearths and celebrates a multifaceted diasporic heritage that challenges our understanding of African modernity and its impact on global historical narratives.
LARB Video: Photographer Spotlight: Omar Victor Diop
Art Base Africa: Omar Victor Diop talks about "Project Diaspora"