The exhibition focused on a group of J.D Ojeikere’s iconic hairstyles.
Born in Western Nigeria in 1930, Ojeikere’s formative years were spent as a photographer for the Ministry of Education in Lagos and later in the West African Publicity Agency. He opened his own studio ‘Foto Ojeikere’ in 1975 and about this time began his legendary series photographing women’s hairstyles.
Although there is a strong documentary quality to the series, preserving an ancient heritage, Ojeikere’s presents the hairstyles as works of art. Often taken from the back, they are sculptural and abstract, sensitive to the intricacies of the work and admiring of the beauty of the design.
Certain styles are decorative while others are more ceremonial and have a precise meaning. Among other things, the style determines specific types of ceremony (such as marriages or coming of age) as well as the status of the woman and her family. Royal families have the exclusive right to their hairstyle, which cannot be imitated… it’s a mark of distinction. Their knowledge is transmitted from mother to daughter. With every portrait Ojeikere notes where the hairstyle is from, its meaning, its name and its history.