The exhibition is making the argument that black masculinity identifies through the blending of African ritualistic approach on clothing with Elizabethan attires, or European designs. Dressing for different occasions and/or reasons, men with African origin depict different blends of Elizabethan way of dressing and the African ritual importance of clothing. For this reason, the pictures show men with African origins, dressed differently for different occasions or purpose. However, the dressing is evolving over time. As globalization takes roots all over, black men in diaspora and even at home are adopting broadly and in-depth the European code of dressing. Yet implying that only the educated black men from certain social status or class the exhibition is misleading. Black men currently, whether in diaspora or back home desire to be complete gentlemen, which is achievable only through magnificent dressing.
Arteh Odjidja’s Stranger in Moscow 2012 shows a black man taking a meal in Moscow. The main image occupies three quarters of the frame. The photographer focuses on the man, the cutlery and the serving on the table. This emphasizes the globalization of cultural identity, such that a black stranger in Moscow is comfortable eating as people from Moscow eat. The figure in the photography shows courage and comfort, in the environment he is in, which is a sign of being accustomed to the environment or readiness to accept the cultures of others. The stature of the figure also shows that the individual is not mick nor feels uneasy regarding his identity. The photographer uses line to distinguish between the main figure and the background. The use of color is minimal. Shading helps in highlighting the areas of emphasis.
In the exhibition, there is a global identity being presented, the identity of change. With globalization, black masculinity is not left behind. As every aspect of human life is racing with globalization, photography and cultural identity are no different. All photographers taking part in the exhibition, regardless of the extent to which they have tried to remain loyal to the tradition of photography, their photographs have been influenced by globalization in some way. Similarly, the dispensation of globalization has influenced the black masculinity, towards a global rather than a European dressing way. Black masculinity has taken a new shape, embracing globalization, which manifests through the adoption of more borrowed cultural aspect and a reduction of what they held on to dearly previously. Initially, black masculinity was solely identifiable with modernized, at that time, way of dressing. Currently, black masculine blend in other aspects adorable to other cultures, such as body structure, which was not part of the traditional black masculinity. That means; black masculinity is not spared from globalization. The same way it is not possible to separate the art world from the real world, it is not possible to isolate human beings, their beliefs, traditions and cultures from globalization. Therefore, the black masculinity is tending towards the global masculinity, where a common male identity exists and the individual identities are merged into a common all round identity.
Jamala Johns’ 201503-142202, there is a photography of a black young sitting at a door step out letting to some stairs. In the African culture, people do not have the tendencies of sitting at the d or step. This is an example of how black masculinity is embracing the cultures of others, integrating into theirs. In that photo, the young man wears a navy-blue suit, some sun-glasses, socks and official shoes. This attire is European, with which the black man identified with. Somehow, the black masculinity is losing grip and popularity. Too much borrowing has changed what was initially known as black.
Photographic media plays the role of keeping the identity as a production, as it fits in art. Identity is not something that is complete, as Zijlman 2012 argues. Identity is a thing that is always in progress; something n continuity, a production. Photographic media in this exhibition plays the role of the media through which this global identity is a production. As Douglas explains, actors, in films, do not act, rather, they behave the same way they could behave under normal circumstances, images in photographs are not photography made, and rather they reflect the real life. Photography just presents a controlled environment to enable the behavior be identified. The character seen in the photographs, with everything they dispense, it not as a result of photography manipulation, but they are a representation of what there is both in the art world and the real world.
Jamala Johns’ photography of a young man in official attire, with a bowtie and some flower on his chest pocket and tall building behind him brings out the role photographic media plays in bringing out the identity. The photography uses line, the color mix in the attire and the contrast with the building to emphasize images to the viewers. A green coat, red bowtie and a yellow flower is total contrast. More so, the young man is wearing a brown hut, which matches with the color of the building. In this case, photographic media serves to show how black masculinity is confident even when there are more odds than good. The match between the hat and the building shows some unity between the black masculinity with the rest of the contemporary world, while the color clash in the rest of the dressing stands out as the differentiating factors of the identity from the contemporary world.
There are photographs in the exhibition are documenting historical facts, and they are not “pictures in Douglas Crimp’s sense, performing a distance from the world.” As Pamela Lee 2003 in her article The Art World under the Sign of Globalism argues, it is impossible to separate the art word of photography from the real world of globalization. Crimp says that pictures in most cases act a distance from the world where the photographers make characters from the photographs they take to present their ideas and points of view about something. A fact that intertwines with Lee’s argument that globalization is part and parcel of photography, influencing the way photographs are taken and presented. In that case, there are both photographs documenting historical facts, as well as those that are pictures in Douglas Crimps sense.
Charl Landvreugd’s Atlantic Transformerz: Faidherbe is a photograph showing a team of black men, standing in front some white buildings. This group appears to be joined by unity and some form of zeal for what they do. This photograph is a picture in the sense of Crimp; rather, it represents historical facts about the group. The stature of the figures in the photograph also depicts professionalism and zeal, which are character traits associated with the group. The use of hats of the same design is easily associable with black masculinity, and it can also be attributable to the bands code. However, the use of a bicycle and a stone in the photograph appears to be a form of making the photograph appears simple. In addition, the white buildings at the back also appear as a way of manipulating the photograph to fit the photographer’s interpretation.
In conclusion, photographs are part of both the art world and the real world, just as other forms of art. Therefore, they take traits of both realms; they have art manipulations by their creators as well as depict life facts about the object in them. Photographs have themes, which have meaning in the real world. In this case, the effect of globalization on the art of photography is one theme on the photographs discussed. Another theme in the exhibition is the existence of a global cultural identity, which comes out clearly through the blending of black masculinity with other cultures in the world. Photographic media plays an important role in delivering the theme in the photograph, where the photographer manipulates the photograph scene to bring out the scene that fits his theme. The art of photography comes in handy since photographers use such elements of photographs such as line, lighting, shading, color, size and object focus to emphasize their meaning or theme. Since photographs are not an event but something in progress or a production, they tell where the topic is heading and where it has come from. That is; it is possible determine the future of a subject from a photograph, as well as tell its past, since it is just but a part of a large production. From the photographs in this exhibition, the main argument is supported, although, the argument seems rather skeptical and based on fallacies. The photographs do not support the argument fully. The photographs argue that it is true that men with African origin do have a touch on their dressing, linked with their African ritualistic dressing, blended with the Elizabethan attire. Nevertheless, this cultural identity is quickly evolving and fading, embracing a more global appearance. Therefore, there is growing a global cultural identity, which unifies people from all over. The evolution of culture is evolving together with the art of photography; bringing notable changes in the photographs are produced.