Free For All
GALLERY HOURS (during exhibitions)
Monday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Open until 7pm on Thursdays

August 28 - December 12, 2021

Namsa Leuba

CROSSED LOOKS

August 28 - December 12, 2021

Namsa Leuba

CROSSED LOOKS

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston is pleased to present Crossed Looks, the first solo exhibition of Swiss-Guinean artist Namsa Leuba in the United States. The show will feature over 90 works from the photographer’s projects in Guinea, South Africa, Nigeria, and Benin, and it will premiere new work created in Tahiti. 

As a photographer working across documentary, fashion, and performance, Namsa Leuba’s images explore the fluid visual identity of the African diaspora. With a dual heritage between Guinea and Switzerland, Leuba draws inspiration from her own experience growing up between two different cultural traditions. 

Leuba’s images are influenced the Animist traditions of her mother’s family in Guinea Conakry, and the visual codes of statues, masquerades, and religious ceremonies in West Africa. They are also inspired by contemporary fashion and design. The result is a unique perspective that straddles reality and fantasy. She re-stages and constructs narrative scenes in collaboration with her sitters, incorporating bold colors, striking patterns, and intricate clothing and props. Leuba often uses models that she informally meets in the street, who become active collaborators in the portraits. 

Leuba’s photographs pose fundamental questions about the medium of photography and its role in forming our understanding of the cultural “Other.” Leuba states: “I have always been characterized as the Other, whether I am too ‘African’ to be European or too ‘European’ to be African. In this unique positioning, I am interested in the politics of the gaze—who is looking, who is being looked at, and the medium of which this looking occurs.”

Leuba has continued her focus in challenging the visual representation of the cultural other in her newest series, Illusions, created in Tahiti. After living in Tahiti for over two years, Leuba collaborated with a group of transgender youths to re-stage imagery reminiscent of the “Primitivist” paintings of Paul Gaugin and “tropical” images in modern art. The series poses an ideological assault to the symbolism of Gaugin’s paintings in Tahiti, which fetishized the indigenous female body and its myths of exoticism. 

Through her photographs, Leuba ultimately searches for a visual sense of belonging, of finding a vocabulary that speaks to the experiences and perspectives of not fitting in one ready-made mold. The title of this exhibition, Crossed Looks, references this diverse perspective, creating an alternative visual proposition that transcends fixed modes of representation. 

The exhibition is organized by guest curator Joseph Gergel, currently based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Namsa Leuba

CROSSED LOOKS

August 28 - December 12, 2021
Opening reception
Halsey Institute
TBD
Artist talk
Halsey Institute
TBD
About the artist

Namsa Leuba (b. 1982) is a Swiss-Guinean photographer and art director. Leuba studied studied photography at ECAL, University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland, and obtained a Masters in Art Direction at ECAL.

Leuba has participated in international exhibitions including Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain; Africa Reframed at Øksnehallen in Copenhagen, Denmark; Daegu Photo Biennale in Daegu, Korea; the Athens Photo Festival in Athens, Greece; Photoquai in Paris, France; LagosPhoto Festival in Lagos, Nigeria; and a performance in Off Print at the Tate Modern, London. In 2018, Leuba was featured in the group exhibition African State of Mind at New Art Exchange, London and and held a solo exhibition at the Hangar Art Center, Brussels.

In 2019, Leuba was featured in the special project Focus in the Eyes at Art Basel’s VIP Lounge. In fall 2019, her work will be included in the group exhibition The New Black Vanguard at Aperture in New York.

Leuba was commissioned by Nike to create the Nigerian campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and she was commissioned by The New Yorker to create a photographic series with emerging Afrobeats musicians in Lagos in 2018. She has produced fashion campaigns for Christian Lacroix, Edun, and La Prairie. She also collaborated with Dior to create two Lady Dior art bags.

Her work has been published in numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, I-D, Numéro, KALEIDOSCOPE, Foam, Interview, Vice Magazine, New York Magazine, Libération, British Journal of Photography, and European Photography.

Leuba won First Prize at the Planches Contact Festival in Deauville, France in 2010. In 2012, she was awarded the PhotoGlobal Prize at the Photography Festival in Hyères, France. She was the winner of the Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Festival in 2013. In 2018, she was nominated for the Foam Talent Call.

Namsa Leuba lives and works between Switzerland and France. Learn more about Leuba at http://www.namsaleuba.com/

About the guest curator

Joseph Gergel is an independent curator and art consultant with a focus on contemporary art in Africa. From the United States and currently based in Lagos, Nigeria, he serves as Director of the Arthouse Foundation’s Artist Residency Program in Lagos, and is a curator at Arthouse Contemporary, the international auction house. He is a founder of ARTOJA, the online marketplace for contemporary art in Africa. He also served as Senior Editor at Moon Man, an experimental publication based in London that profiles global art and culture.

Gergel served as co-curator for three editions of the LagosPhoto Festival and as a curator at Art Twenty One and African Artist’s Foundation (AAF) in Lagos. He has organized exhibitions with contemporary African artists in Lagos, London, Paris, New York, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Miami, Dubai, Marrakesh, and Odessa.

In Lagos, he developed public projects including YECA (Youth Empowerment Through Contemporary Art), a community outreach project supported by the Ford Foundation, and Art Base Africa, an online database for contemporary African art, supported by the Prince Claus Fund. He has contributed to international publications of contemporary art including The New Yorker, Foam, Aperture, British Journal of Photography, DIS Magazine, Something We Africans Got, Omenka Magazine, Guernica, I AM, and Art Africa.

Gergel received a master’s degree in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University and a BA in Photography and the Philosophy of Images from New York University. He received a post-graduate diploma in photography from the Speos Photography Institute in Paris, France. He has participated in international curatorial training fellowships including the International Curator Course at the Gwangju Biennale (Gwangju, South Korea), Curatorial Program for Research Program in Eastern Europe (Kiev, Warsaw, Prague), and the ICI Curatorial Intensive in Accra (Ghana).

Learn more about Gergel at https://www.josephgergel.com/

Free For All
GALLERY HOURS (during exhibitions)
Monday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Open until 7pm on Thursdays
843.953.4422


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