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Le Grande Boubou Exhibit

August 10, 2022.

Brooklyn-based visual artist, photographer and curator Nzingah Oyo brings her first solo exhibition of the year to The Billie with Le Grande Boubou, a visual exploration and celebration of the beauty and tradition of West African women, fashion and culture. Meaning “The Grand Dress,” Le Grande Boubou has been a constant fashion component and staple for women primarily in West Africa for centuries. The Boubou can range from elaborately adorned embroidered garments to hand-dyed high quality Cotton/Bazin Riche materials with intricate patterns. Influencing everything from the runways of Fashion Week to the patchworks of local tailoring shops and pop-culture associations, these colorful works of art can be worn in everyday life and concurrently at weddings and other traditional ceremonies.

The idea for Le Grande Boubou was first conceived during Oyo’s Fulbright Scholarship (2004) residency in the Gambia, Senegal, Guinea and Mali where she began shooting the portraits and continued to evolve it into a series over a period of 18 years. The series addresses western ideologies and misconceptions about African dress and focuses on the celebration of the regal designs. It also explores the various styles and aesthetics of Boubou while simultaneously taking a closer look into the lives of its creators – women who are primarily entrepreneurs in the global textile business from the African continent and who extend throughout Europe, Asia, United States & many parts of the world occupied by these subcommunities. Oyo continued her work on the Series in New York City, which is home to some of the largest West African communities, as she explains that it further allows  “the audience to experience the beauty of traditions that continue even while living an immigrant experience in New York.”

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