The performance artist embodying Paris’ creative spirit

Oko Ebombo is the Dazed 100 contender fronting 19, a band intent on performing a week after the terrorist attacks in Paris to celebrate the city

Filmmaker Samuel Rixon began shooting his friend, the creative polymath and Dazed 100-er Oko Ebombo, November 11 2015, with the aim to introduce the world to his musical collective, 19. It was close to their performance in Paris’ Le Palais de Tokyo, when things took a sinister turn.

“I was shooting Oko when the Paris terrorists attacks happened. These tragic events deeply affected us, and questioned the performance at the Palais de Tokyo,” explains Samuel Rixon, who embarked on the project with the production company Slowdance. The American musicians from 19 were unsure if they could enter French territory with the restricted airspace, then it was uncertain whether the cultural centre would have authorisation to continue with performances, and whether people would show up at all.

“As a common agreement, it was decided not to give up, or give in to terror,” says Rixon. “This painful and uncertain environment was palpable during the rehearsals, and on the day of performance, the emotion felt was amazing. It was important to me to integrate this dimension to the film and to recreate the feeling that was ours this night.”

19 are a musical collective, first formed in 2009, who fuse elements of poetry, music and movement in their performances. Members come from across the world: Paris, Portland, Tokyo and New York. Ebombo is a multi-dimensional virtuoso, presenting his photography in his debut show Okosexuel and performing at the Pigalle AW15 menswear show, with a heart that belongs to the magical city he was raised in. Though Paris is amid a cold, bitter winter and mourning in the wake of the horrific attacks, Ebombo remains positive: “It’s the end of a cycle for me. The beginning of a new spring.”

You can vote for Oko Ebombo in this year’s Dazed 100 here