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Transcending Cultures: Africa meets Japan « MAD Blog
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Transcending Cultures: Africa meets Japan

Serge_Mouangue_WafricaKimono

[ED: Lisa Marie Harris is a Curatorial Intern at the Museum of Arts and Design]

As a fashion-loving Curatorial Intern working on the Global Africa Project, I often find myself drifting off into stylish daydreams whenever I gather artist and designer information for the exhibition.  It’s difficult to focus solely on compiling info when some of my artist research also involves ogling patterned, wax-bonded materials and African-influenced fashion! What always catches my eye is when a designer is able to integrate the traditional printed textiles into their design language, without directly riffing on the tried-and-true silhouettes that are somewhat synonymous with African apparel design.

Cameroonian ArtistSerge Mouangue’s Wafrica Kimonos are a perfect illustration of this: His usage of wildly patterned materials in the construction of formal Japanese Kimonos enlivens the traditional design, prompting the viewer to consider a non-traditional application of an African motif. Bringing the mind away from what a typical African design should look like, his Kimonos are at once contemporary and traditional, even as the pieces cross cultural, historical, and situational divides.

Monague explains it best when he says, “The Wafrica project is both an expression of who and where I am – it is another perspective gained from a new artistic standpoint. I now reside in Japan, but I am African. I’ve studied in France, lived in Australia, and have been fortunate to travel and connect with varying cultures. These experiences force me to ask myself again and again – from constantly changing angles – not only where we come from, but how we come from. Where do we feel our origins? What are “identity” and “values”?

According to Mounague, “These questions arise from looking at the present and towards the future, rather than at the past, which we carry inside us. Thus, considering these questions delivers a new vision that transcends both cultures; Japanese and African. Wafrica wasn’t possible in our pasts. Today it becomes so, and it belongs to our collective future.”

And truly,  Mounague’s ‘new vision’ represents the core purpose of the Global Africa project.

Serge Mouangue – http://www.wafrica.jp/
Image Courtesy DesignBoom – http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/8/view/4403/african-kimono-by-serge-mouangue.html
 
 

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