Namsa Leuba’s diverse photographic practice examines the representation of African identity through the Western imagination. Spanning documentary, fashion and performance, Namsa Leuba creates a visual imaginary that explores the signs and symbols of her cultural heritage, from rituals and ceremonies to statuettes and masquerades. Whether executed on location in the artist’s ancestral hometown of Guinea or in the constructed studio environment, Leuba’s projects combine an anthropological interest in traditional customs with an aesthetic that is informed by fashion and design sensibilities. Adopting a theatrical approach with careful attention to props, colors and gestures, Namsa Leuba questions the relationship between fact and fiction, action and representation, and the sacred and the profane.
This presentation features Leuba’s photographic series produced in South Africa during the artist’s residency in 2014. Following her seminal series, Ya Kala Ben (2011), which explored rituals common to the cosmology of Guineans in their ceremonial structure, Leuba continues her research into indigenous cultural practices in Africa. Working with the communities of the Khoisan, Zulu and Lesotho ethnic groups in South Africa, Leuba creates staged photographs that blend the characters, landscapes and traditions of the local environment. Acknowledging her position as a both an insider and outsider, Leuba’s works toe the line to portray South African culture in a wholly fantastic and contemporary light.
Namsa Leuba’s newest series, NGL, makes its debut at The Armory Show. Produced in 2015 during the artist’s residency with Art Twenty One in Lagos, Nigeria, NGL follows the artist’s previous work in fashion photography. Leuba was inspired by the energy of the city of Lagos - its chaos, vibrancy, and determination - translating this spirit into a unique visual language. Leuba collaborated with local fashion designers and models in Lagos, often times sourced from the street, to create a potpourri collection of clothes, props and accessories. Staged in the studio, Leuba imagines narratives for the characters she portrays through a surrealist and psychedelic filter. With the acronym standing for “Next Generation Lagos”, Leuba points to the innovation and creativity of Nigeria’s youth.
Namsa Leuba (Switzerland, b. 1982) studied photography at ECAL, University of Art and Design Lausanne, and obtained a Masters in Art Direction at ECAL. Her work has been published in numerous magazines, including I-D, Numéro, KALEIDOSCOPE, Foam, Interview, Vice Magazine, New York Magazine, Wallpaper, Libération, British Journal of Photography, and European Photography. In 2010, Leuba won First Prize at the Planches Contact Festival in Deauville, France. In 2012, Leuba was awarded the PhotoGlobal Prize at the Photography Festival in Hyères. She was the winner of the Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Festival in 2013. In 2015, Namsa Leuba was nominated for the Prix Pictet Award and was included in Photoquai in Paris, France and Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain. Leuba lives and works in Lausanne.
ABOUT ECHO ART
Echo Art is an art consulting and management company focusing on the contemporary African Art scene. Its first project, Art Twenty One, is a 600 sqm space and platform dedicated to contemporary art in Lagos, Nigeria. Located at the Eko Hotel & Suites in Victoria Island, Art Twenty One is intended to contribute to and solidify the growing art scene in Lagos, as well as position the city as a major force in the international art world. An unprecedented and unique set up in Lagos, the space is designed to make art accessible to a large and growing audience who will be able to engage with a rich and diverse range of contemporary art, cultural practice, and educational art programs.