Namsa Leuba was born in 1982 from a Guinean mother and a Swiss father. She grew up in Switzerland but has spent years on a “journey back” towards her African roots, using the language of photography to approach her personal identity in a variety of ways. In particular, she has focused the past 5 years of her artistic research on visualizing African identity through Western eyes.
This has taken different forms—from an response to Guinean rituals to a look at South African identity, alongside work exploring fashion, performance and intervention. Her diverse portfolio and original approach have earned her a place at many international photography festivals and her work has received recognition from many corners. Her latest accomplished is being named a Foam Talent for 2017 for her project “Next Generation Lagos” (NGL) presented here.
In Leuba’s words, this project examines “the innovation and creativity of Nigeria’s youth culture. Produced in 2015 during my residency with Art Twenty One in Lagos, Nigeria, ‘NGL’ follows my previous work in fashion photography. I was inspired by the energy of the city of Lagos—its chaos, vibrancy, and determination—and sought to translate that spirit into a unique visual language. Staged in the studio, these portraits imagine narratives for the characters, passed through a surrealist or psychedelic filter.”
Or as Azu Nwagbogu, an African curator and the Founder and Director of LagosPhoto Festival, wrote in a text accompanying Leuba’s work in Foam Magazine, “In exploring the vibrancy and energy of Nigeria’s youth culture, Leuba collaborates with young, edgy Nigerian fashion designers of the next generation. The images she produces here are not just resolved representations of beautifully stylized bodies but the work of an artist on a quest to understand her own perception of creolization and to translate its manifestations for the world to see. Her work matures together with her collaborators. Parody succeeds because the host thrives. Syncretism is actually the story of her life…”
Artist’s note: Nigerian fashion designers featured in this series include I.AM.ISIGO, Tzar Studios, Maxivive, Tokyo James, Adeju Thompson, Re Bahia, Torlowei, and Deco.
Leuba’s work is currently on view along with the other Foam Talents at the Foam Museum in Amsterdam until November 12, 2017. The striking text quoted above from curator Azu Nwagbogu was taken from his full-length essay in Foam Magazine. Its 11th Talent Issue is on sale now.