'Noire Absolue' Artists

Akona Kenqu Dana Scruggs Francis Kokoroko Laeïla Adjovi Richard Terborg Siaka S.Traoré

Akona Kenqu

In 2012, Akona held her first solo exhibit entitled "Society", which centered on the skateboard crew, Skate Society Soweto (SSS). In this series she investigates the daily lives and characters of a group of young black skaters in contemporary South Africa. She is interested in the ways in which these young people relate to their environment and look for their place in society; a place where they can feel safe and at home. A number of these places have already been specially equipped for skaters, but many have also been appropriated and claimed by the skaters themselves. Kenqu wants to show what the significance of skate culture is for these young people, and thereby combat existing stereotypes.

Dana Scruggs

Dana Scruggs is a photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2016, she launched SCRUGGS Magazine, a print publication dedicated to her vision of the male form. In 2018, Dana became the first African American and the first African American woman to photograph the cover of Rolling Stone in the 52 year history of the magazine.

The series Black Male which Ms.Scruggs is creating in collaboration with MAKER magazine. Ms.Scruggs describes her work in MAKER magazine as follows: “My work focuses on the Black male body - which is praised and revered for it’s excellence in athletics and in the entertainment industry and beyond. Black male bodies also illicit fear in everyday life and in everyday situations when around white people. That’s why LeBron James was cheered on the court by the same people who called him “nigger” when he decided to leave Cleveland. In America, Black people are only safe when white people feel like they have power over you and when you’re doing what they want you to do. When they feel threatened or like they’re losing that power - that’s when Black People lose their life...or in the case of Colin Kaepernick, blackballed out of the NFL. Addressing the beauty of the Black male body, it’s power and it’s presence, is central to my work. Showing that Black men have autonomy over themselves and that their existence should be revered - not feared.”

The model Adonis Bosso is her muse, as she describes in her magazine SCRUGGS. ’No one else can capture his magic the way I can.” Ms. Scruggs is interested in addressing the issue that the fashion industry does not employ black models no matter how beautiful they may be. Often, black models like Adonis are turned away from a casting because the agency is not “looking for brown people.” Ms.Scruggs has taken her camera to adress the issue of the appropriation of Black culture by the fashion industry and the world at large. In SCRUGGS magazine, Ms. Scruggs states, “If black models were equally represented on runways and in campaigns, I wouldn’t have a problem with designers and magazines being inspired by our culture and creating art from that inspiration. What bothers me is that they’re getting inspiration from us, but not giving anything back. And that’s what’s shameful.”

Francis Kokoroko

Francis Kokoroko is a young photojournalist from Ghana, West Africa. He earned his degree in computer science from Ashesi University, Ghana. After taking a photography course at the New York University office in Ghana, Francis became enamored of photography and now regularly writes for Reuters documenting cultural and social change in Ghana and other African countries. His work has appeared in The Weekly, The Africa Report, FRONTLINE and CNN Africa.

Photo credit: Portrait of Francis Kokoroko by Nyani Quarmyne

Laeïla Adjovi

Laeïla Adjovi is a Beninese and French national who grew up in Gabon and South Africa. Adjovi studied political sciences and journalism in France and then lived in India, and New Caledonia, before moving back to the continent. A reporter and self-taught photographer, Adjovi is interested in documentary photography and photojournalism. She is passionate about themes related to social issues, daily life on the continent, and African cultural heritage. Fascinated by processing techniques and film photography, she constantly experiments in her darkroom while working as a radio and TV reporter from Dakar, Senegal, for BBC Africa.

Richard Terborg

Richard (Curaçao) is a Conceptual Fashion, Portrait and Fine-Art Photographer. His background in media and design helps his overactive brain keep up with the many things he does at the same time. Add a drive for getting people to ‘stop talking and start doing’, and you’ve got Richard Terborg in a nutshell. His experience as a multimedia engineer gives Richard the sharpened ability of finding the most creative solution to every problem. By specializing in everything the media world has to offer, he taught himself the art of multitasking several ventures at a time... and rocking them.

Immersing himself into the world of photography is no different. His growing affinity for directing, producing, casting, arranging models, building sets, collaborating with other artists, to shooting and post-production makes continuously learning and growing within his craft a force of habit. His unconventional mixture of evocative and editorial photography makes working with him an experience you take with you on all your endeavors. Not to mention his highly contagious energy that will make you feel on a caffeine high without the caffeine.

However, a camera is just a camera. The people/clients he connects with and their stories are the drive behind the popularity of his work. High engagement with every person behind the camera makes the work in front of the camera seem effortless. The core of what he does goes beyond taking a photo: he tells a story through his images by bringing people together and motivating them to collaborate and create.

Siaka S.Traoré

Civil engineer by trade and photographer by passion, Burkinabé Siaka S. Traoré, was born in Douala, Cameroon in 1986. After having lived and worked in a few African capitals, he developed an interest in cultural diversity through the urban arts. Fascinated by these arts, he was inspired to begin his photographic work with a focus on the social impact and the aesthetic impact of these arts.

His career began in 2014 at the Dakar Biennial where he exhibited for the first time the series "Sunustreet", with the gallery Atiss. In 2016, thanks to his work titled "In this .." with the gallery MAM and DONWAHI, Siaka received the Orange Award for digital photography excellence at the prestigious Parisian art fair, AKAA. Siaka S. Traoré is becoming a staple on the contemporary African photography scene as his photographic practice diversifies and becomes increasingly popular.

photo credit: Antoine Tempé