Series Portraying Evolution of African Hair Wins The Magnum & Lensculture Award

A photography series depicting the work of late Nigerian photographer J.D Ojeikere has won the prestigious Magnum Lensculture  Photography award.

Medina Dugger’s “An Ode to J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere” is an ongoing series which celebrates women’s hair styles in Lagos. The images are inspired by hair colour trends and by the late Nigerian photographer J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, who photographed over a thousand different hair styles in his lifetime.

Dugger’s take on the iconic black and white portraits documenting various African hairstyles from braids, to wool won in the open category of the competition. “Ojeikere’s approach was documentary in nature, as he took inventory of hundreds of hairstyles and amassed an enormous index spanning over 40 years,” narrates Dugger.

“He began photographing hairstyles in black-and-white, following the re-emergence of traditional hairstyles which became popular again following Nigeria’s independence. Prior to de-colonization, wigs and hair straightening had become a commonplace practice, especially in urban areas of the country.”

Dugger’s portraits depict the evolving nature of African hair styles with the introduction of hair extensions, coloured hair. Her series titled ‘Chroma‘ is a celebration of traditional and contemporary braiding methods. The series takes more of a conceptual approach to Ojeikere’s documentary style and recontextualizes some of Ojeikere’s (and other) hairstyles to highlight current and imagined hair designs, celebrating the art of Nigerian hair culture.

Copyright Medina Dugger

The twelve winners of the prestigious award who will walk home with a prize money of $3, 000, hail from all over the world and deal with a diversity of subjects. Nick Hannes, the Documentary series winner, pursued a project featuring the culture of the elite in Dubai, while Lissa Rivera’s striking portraits of her non-binary partner explore contemporary notions of gender and its narratives in today’s society. All told, the series and single image awards include six categories: Street, Portrait, Photojournalism, Open, Fine Art and Documentary.

Copyright Medina Dugger

Copyright Medina Dugger

All selected work—including Winners, Finalists, and Jurors’ Picks—will be included in an online exhibition hosted by Magnum Photos and LensCulture which will go live on 18 July 2017. There will also be a digital exhibition in London at the Photographers’ Gallery later in 2017.



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