As the world continues to adjust to the positive and negative effects of social media, an increasing amount of creative social media users are inventing new ways to use the tool to garner more visibility around socio-political issues. One of these creative forces, is Côte d'Ivoire-based fashion designer, artist, and entrepreneur, Loza Maléombho.
With an audience of over seventy-five thousand followers on Instagram, Maléombho uses her art to speak on subjects near and dear to her heart. For her popular #AESelfieStories series, Maléombho re-imagines the traditional selfie and inverts its usual self-indulgent function to instead highlight a larger community of marginalized African people.
Inspired by the case State of Missouri v. Darren Wilson in 2014, Maléombho created the artistic self-portrait series that placed the power of representation in her own hands. Below are a few of our favorite portraits from The Folklore designer.
“Bullied for my dark skin or for my background growing up in the US, I looked at myself in the mirror and somehow still found myself beautiful. The more I nurtured what made me different, the more I realized beauty was not what others saw but hat I choose to show. Using the selfie as a platform, I became both the observer and the observed and placed the power of representation in my own hands.”
In addition to her original #AESelfieStories series, Maléombho introduced a collection of selfies titled 'Alien Series' that utilizes graphic design to paint a picture of cultural significance and imaginative artistic expression. The #AlienEdits series resists against the alienation, discrimination, and misrepresentation African people.
"We are a generation stigmatised as 'Selfie-obsessed', which in itself calls for a narcissistic stereotype. I intended to defy that notion by spreading socially conscious messages and stimulating a paradox, while doing so through the selfie itself. Since I am taking selfies it only made sense to display them via Instagram to begin with. It is a direct window to the audience I am talking to who can relate to both content and medium. The message couldn’t spread any easier." - Loza Maléombho, Africa is a Country (2015)
"Alien Edits are socially conscious selfies expressed through style, pride, grace, and cultural awareness and against racial, class, cultural, religious and sexuality stereotypes, all of which cause a state of alienation on its victims." - Loza Maléombho, Africa is a Country (2015)
Shop select styles from the Loza Maléombho brand online at The Folklore and visit her profile to view more images from the #AESelfieStories series.
Words: Gelina Dames