Lakin Ogunbanwo’s new exhibition Are We Good Enough at Cape Town’s What If The World gallery

Nataal contributing photographer Lakin Ogunbanwo raises questions around masculinity and identity with his latest body of work. Are We Good Enough, currently on show at Cape Town’s What If The World gallery, explores how traditional dress – specifically hats – is worn in his native Nigeria through a series of obscured portraits. What Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa-Fulani and other tribes wear on their heads expresses belonging but in the subtle nuances of each anonymous headshot there’s individuality too. “It’s important for me to document how things are in our male-dominated society,” says Ogunbanwo, who has been working on the series since 2012. “Nigerians take appearance seriously. I’m shooting from the back to keep the focus on the hats, each worn differently, and comment upon a typical Nigerian man’s attitude toward women, and to life.” 

Are We Good Enough is making a fashion statement too. Young men still conform to accepted aesthetics by wearing ‘local’ for dress down Fridays or to special events, but they also assert their own swagger in the details, which starts and ends with headwear. This solo show, Ogunbanwo’s second in South Africa, further marks the Lagos-based artist out for his bold and often tongue-in-cheek point of view. 

Are We Good Enough is at What If The World until 23 January 2016

Photography Lakin Ogunbanwo
Words Helen Jennings

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