Platt Hall, Manchester 2011
12 January–30 April 2011
Lubaina Himid’s work often investigates issues of black identity. In this exhibition at the Gallery of Costume, she has selected from the large West African textile collection in the gallery’s stores and re-interpreted the materials to express contemporary and historic male identity through appearance and clothes.
Through the creation of five life-sized images of black men, the artist asks the questions: “Who do you want to be? Who is it possible to be? Can what you wear help you be who you want to be?”
The display consists of four themes, which Lubaina Himid describes in more detail:
This is the person who knows how to make the best of the human figure or to reveal a good one, to give elegance of line and to permit movement without disturbance to the actual look, style and fit of the costume. For me, the Tailor is like an architect for the body; how our clothes feel on the inside is as important as how they look on the outside. How we feel on the inside is what makes us act in a particular way in the world.
This is the person who goes for goal, the one who takes the risks, the one with responsibility for winning the match, winning the cup and winning the battle for survival. The Striker is the warrior, the leader, the fighter, the person who makes quick and precise decisions flamboyantly and with exceptional bravado.
This is the person who writes the poetry and songs, tells the stories, remembers the histories, makes sure that the truth is told; passed down from the elders to the young and then written down. Sometimes the Singer imitates the sounds of nature, the birds, the water, the rush of the wind and the dash of the rain in order to make sure the tale is told.
This is the person who is not afraid to be seen as elegant and bold, charming, eloquent and strategic. The Dandy understands how everything is structured and designed and is always aware of how everything looks.
The exhibition is part of London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.