Ivan Forde was born in 1990 in Georgetown, Guyana, and raised in New York, United States. He was introduced to photography in his youth through a teen photography residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2006. He deepened his interest in photography while studying literature, especially classic poetry, at Purchase College. In 2012, Forde completed his studies with an award-winning thesis of self-portraits representing a reader’s reaction to John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, which describes the fall of Adam and Eve in a chaotic way. After graduation, he became more involved in his art practice and worked in non-profit spaces. Using self-portraiture, his work draws on themes of identity, memory, and migration. He uses digital manipulation and collage to transform his images into surrealist narrative reminiscent of English poetry. In his Dense Lightness (2018) series, Forde revisited the Epic of Gilgamesh through interdisciplinary experimentations with large-scale cyanotypes. The artist used his own image in photomontage, creating a poetic mirror of himself as both subject and viewer with a focus on Gilgamesh’s double to depict the struggle between opposing spaces.
Williams Chechet is a visual artist who was born in Kano and raised in Kaduna in northern Nigeria. He studied Industrial Design at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, but dropped out in his third year to focus on his art. He works as a graphic designer and art director for various brands as well as product designer for freelance projects. Influenced by pop art, afrobeats, and Afrofuturism, Chechet creates digital images that combine popular and historical figures with abstract elements. He cites the work of Eduardo Paolozzi, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Hamilton, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Takashi Murakami and Brian Donnelly as inspirations. His works explore themes of identity, history, and cultural iconography, oscillating between the past, present, and future through the vibrant depiction of traditional characters. In his series We Are The North (2017), Chechet depicts portraits of historical and political figures of Northern Nigeria overlapped with colourful symbols and selected accessories, replacing them in popular memory and consciousness.
Pierre-Christophe Gam was born in 1983 in Paris, France, from a Chadian mother and a Cameroonian father. He studied architecture at the École des Arts Décoratifs, a school of art and design in Paris, and at Central Saint Martins, an art school in London. In his professional career, he has specialized in art direction for leading contemporary luxury brands and for the music industry. In 2013, Gam launched the cultural platform Afro-Polis, which aimed to explore and discover the African visual heritage. Since then, he has developed his artistic work mainly through photography, collage, and digital media. He creates compelling images where deep cultural references are mixed-up and juxtaposed in a vibrant and colourful tapestry. With his striking compositions, Gam questions complex and deeply rooted narratives at the core of the global African cultural experience. In the Affogbolo (2015) series, he created images inspired by traditional African photography and Italian Renaissance portraiture to highlight the economic and cultural attributes of the contemporary African young elite.
Saïdou Dicko was born in 1979 in Déou, Burkina Faso. As a young shepherd, he developed his artistic sense by drawing animal shadows on the sands. Growing up, he started to capture the silhouettes of people on houses’ walls or on the colourful embroideries of his mother. These shadows remain the core element of his visual storytelling, which he often enhances with paint, digital collage, and textile pattern. In 2005, Dicko started to work with photography and expanded his practice with painting, video, and installations. He explores themes of equality, union, and childhood through the representation of opposing concepts such as light and shadow. The artist uses portraiture with his subjects painted in black, essentially to draw the viewer’s attention to the social contexts of each scene. In his recent series The Shadowed People, we see anonymous characters playing on the streets, arguing next to a wall, or standing in sideways. In 2012, Dicko co-founded the collective Rendez-vous d’artistes, a platform for artists, curators, gallerists, and journalists to exchange ideas and projects.