Kenyan photographer Thandiwe Muriu’s graphic CAMO series is currently showing in Paris.
By using bold African prints as backdrops, and everyday objects found in Kenyan households as props, she encourages a fresh perspective on African beauty and an appreciation of Kenyan culture.
The concept for her show began as a way to appreciate African fabric, but Muriu quickly realized there was so much more to say.
“If I speak of African beauty, I need to focus on more than what we wear and explore who we are and how that makes us uniquely beautiful,” she says.
“I am so proud to come from this continent! To me, being African means being colorful and full of life,” she says.
With this in mind, Muriu homed in on certain items, objects, and styles that reflect her Kenyan culture. Although exploring serious and thought-provoking themes, Muriu wanted to approach these in a more accessible and playful way.
This she did by using graphic fabrics as backdrops and everyday objects as props – items that every Kenyan has in their homes. Objects like bottle tops, plastic combs, sieves, straws and even bottle cleaning brushes feature.
“Kenyans are very resourceful people and one of the most common things I see is objects being used for something other than their intended purpose.
The fabrics also have significance. As backdrops, they celebrate Muriu’s culture. Beyond this however, they also have a deeper meaning.
“The series is titled CAMO because of how the subject of each image camouflages into the background. It’s a commentary on how many times we can lose ourselves in our culture and community and yet there are such unique things about every individual.
It’s a little ironic – I want my models to blend into the background even as they stand out,” she says.
CAMO, is now on at 193 Gallery in Paris.
Courtesy of Design Indaba – Undisguised Beauty