Episode 2: Fashion and ethics with Aboubakar Fofana & Gozi Ochonogor
Ikọ zone featuring: Nola Cherri
October 14th, 2020
In this episode, Otobong Nkanga introduces a discussion between fashion designer Gozi Ochonogor and multidisciplinary artist and designer Aboubakar Fofana. The conversation will explore how each one articulates their textile practice and inclusion in the fashion industry and sustainable mode of production. It will furthermore reflect on their conceptions of fabric and fashion as a site for community building and support.
Within the Ikọ zone we will listen to Nola Cherri a singer, songwriter and artist living in Paris, who sings her song Halluzination.
Born in Mali and raised in France, Aboubakar Fofana is a multidisciplinary artist and designer whose working mediums include calligraphy, textiles and natural dyes. He is known for his work in reinvigorating and redefining West African indigo dyeing techniques, and much of his focus is devoted to the preservation and reinterpretation of traditional West African textile and natural dyeing techniques and materials.
Fofana's work stems from a profound spiritual belief that nature is divine and that through respecting this divinity, we can understand the immense and sacred universe. His raw materials come from the natural world, and his working practice revolves around the cycles of nature, the themes of birth, decay and change, and the impermanence of these materials. He sees the conception and realisation of this work as a form of spiritual practice, which is shared with his audience.
Fofana is currently deeply involved in creating a farm in conjunction with the local community in the district of Siby, Mali, in which the two types of indigenous West African indigo will be the centrepiece for a permaculture model based around local food, medicine and dye plants. This project hopes to contribute to the rebirth of fermented indigo dyeing in Mali and beyond, and represents his life's greatest project to date.
Gozi Ochonogor is Creative Director of U.Mi-1 (pronounced you.me.one), a brand whose collections were inspired by Nigerian culture, mixed with British and Japanese aesthetic: places she calls home. Gozi believes that it is through our similarities that we begin to appreciate our differences. Gozi studied Software Engineering at Imperial College London and menswear design at Central School of Fashion London. She learned about art by working at the Anthony Reynolds gallery. An astute pattern-cutter, Gozi explores themes of contemporary art forms, in particular architecture and cubism through clever construction. Her approach to tailoring is like that of an engineer - with a zeal for perfection and attention to detail. She is passionate about reviving and evolving Nigerian textile traditions. The brand is stocked in stores worldwide.
Nola Cherri's research focuses on the transformation of sound, from its acoustic form to an experimental Afro techno evolution. From a raw material, of which she works the form, comes out the sounds of factories.
These pieces come from a process of working in the chain, carried by very basic rhythms through those of a sewing machine, that of the thread that twists under the pressure of the needle or skin that stretches when tanned.
Clothing is a second skin, it speaks for us, our identity, who we decide to be. An incorruptible preacher of thrift stores, Nola sees upcycling as a way to break the chain of capitalism and textile industrialization, which cause both human and ecological damage.