Nataal.com is a superbly curated online portal for contemporary African and Afro-inspired trends, especially in photography, visual arts, fashion, film, and music. The founders of Nataal, journalist Helen Jennings and filmmaker Alassane Sy, have given artists, creatives, and designers in and outside the African continent a platform to introduce and share their work globally. Today, designers and fashion-conscious creatives around the world closely follow Nataal.
Helen Jennings and Melody Micmacher from London will kick off our event series “More Aphrike” to introduce Nataal. Alassane Sy will be joining us via Skype to discuss his work and his short film “Marabout”.
Helen Jennings is a culture- and fashion journalist based in London. Besides her work for Nataal she is regulary writing for magazines like Dazed&Confused, El Pais, The Face, Grazia, Guardian, Harper‘s Bazaar, iD, Sunday Times and Trace. Helen has been working as an editor for Arise - a magazine about african fashion and culture - for five years. Furthermore she is the author of the book »New African Fashion«, published in the Prestel Verlag.
Sy was born in Mauritanias but relocated to Senegal to escape civil unrest. After attending school in France he moved to New York to become an actor. He had a succesful career as a model working for brands like Boss. Later on he played in serveral movies – including the lead character in the movie »Restless City«, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. Meanwhile Sy is also shooting his own movies. In 2014 he founded Nataal. He is currently living in London.
Melody Micmacher was born in Paris. She moved to London to study at Central Saint Martins, and meanwhile, worked as an assistant for filmmaker Ruth Hogben. She is currently working in the section of production, including films, music videos and advertising campaigns. She can name clients such as Ted Baker, Island Records and LOVE Magazine. Melody recently worked as Production Manager on Alassane Sy's latest short film, a pilot of his next feature film Talibès.
»Joburg-based photographer and filmmaker Kristin-Lee Moolman explores the idea of creating a fictional mythology or place based on the synthesis of political, personal and visual experiences of living in South Africa. She is taking her heritage and her friends’ heritage, and turning them into a new world and view of beauty beyond the racial struggles of the country. She calls it >bubble gum pop with hint of black magic<.«
»Having lived through revolution in Cairo, Owise Abuzaid was tempted to become a photojournalist but when his Canon EOS 550D got broken in a clash on the streets, he decided to stick to using an iPhone and turned his attentions to more abstract views and perspectives. And with almost 100K followers on Instagram today, he’s clearly doing something right.«
»Every time I shoot pictures is a special moment for me. I’m high on photography.«
Interview Helen Jennings
Helen Jennings: »African fashion offers the world something truly fresh.«
Is there such a thing as African fashion?
There is no one overarching idea of African fashion of course. There is fashion from Africa and inspired by Africa and it goes without saying that the continent’s centuries-old sartorial flair and current scenes can not be glibly described. It’s important to dispels clichés about African fashion being summed up by a handful of signifiers - wax print, big beads etc. The best talents coming through now balance global seasonal trends with local textiles, dress practices and traditions, thereby offering the world something that feels truly fresh. Each of the major cities have their own burgeoning scenes and names to know and those connect to what’s happening in neighbouring countries and in the diaspora as interest in ‘African fashion’ rapidly unfolds. Right now Nigeria and South Africa certainly dominate but there’s lovely things happening in Kenya, Ghana, Senegal and beyond.
Alassane Sy: »I went to a Marabout school in Senegal myself.«
Shortfilm Marabout (2016)
“Marabout” is the story of Police Detective Diagne who pursues a group of street kids (Talibès) in the city of Dakar for stealing from him and discovers the dangers they are exposed to in their daily lives.”
Delphine Diaw Diallo
Petite Noir (Yannick Ilunga) and Rharha Nembhard
Now I Am Here – Sarah Hugo-Hamman
Serge Attukwei Clottey