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

Cocktails and The African Queens

Wed Oct 13, 2021

Namsa Leuba’s series Cocktail and African Queens transcends fixed modes of representation with the incorporation of modern fashion influences. Leuba focuses in on the politics of gaze, exploring “who is looking, who is being looked at, and the medium of which this looking occurs.” However, it’s all about how the viewer is receiving her depictions. Her fashion photography implements eccentric props within a studio atmosphere. She spotlights artificial and stereotypical symbols through carefully chosen fashion accessories, pushing boundaries with contemporary fashion design, making way for new concepts. Crossed Looks, her exhibition at the Halsey Institute, examines her mixed Guinean and Swiss heritage and the stereotypical narrative that accompany the two. The series is all about the difference between outside appearance and identity. The subject for each work is an accumulation of both cultures, which is visible in the clothing, accessories, poses, and makeup.

Crossed Looks challenges the viewers preconceived expectations of African culture. The masks and headdresses worn by the models allude to cultural traditions while playing on the West’s stereotypical expectations of African culture, “exploring the figure of the queen as a hero, prophet, and warrior.” Leuba focuses on the interpretation of African culture from the West, using Western aesthetics in her shoots. This can be noticed in the inclusion of popular fashion trends like Dr. Marten and Nike shoes.

My favorite in the series is made up of archival prints on acrylic featuring a figure surrounded by imitation tigers. They are dressed in a beautiful floral skirt, emerald shirt, the color of royalty, with a floral arrangement covering the face. With the addition of the Nike sneakers, Leuba is combining traditional stylistic cultural choices with contemporary fashion trends, transcending demographic clichés. The image stood out to me initially because I envisioned myself wearing the outfit. Clothes are a way to present your identity to the world.  They have the ability to tell your story just as Namsa has done with her series.

-by Sarah Feldman, Halsey Institute intern

image: Namsa Leuba, Untitled III, 2011, from the Cocktail series. Archival print on acrylic.


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

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, 161 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC, 29401, http://halsey.cofc.edu. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact