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Photography James Tennessee Briandt

The new issue of Boy.Brother.Friend examines our dependency on rituals

With its fifth issue, Ceremony, the fashion publication brings together Wolfgang Tillmans, Obongjayar, and Ghanian crossdressers

As the firstborn son from a traditional Igbo home, when KK Obi’s father passed away, there were certain funeral rites that fell on his shoulders, like the slashing of a cow’s tail. In Igbo culture, entry into the spirit world isn’t guaranteed, and so the sacrifice of cattle ensures a loved-one’s smooth transition, functioning as an atonement for their sins, while fast-tracking their social standing in the afterlife. It was these kind of rituals – cultural, quotidian, often unconscious – that came to inspire the latest issue of Boy.Brother.Friend. “Which ceremonies have stood the test of time and which have been lost?,” the stylist asks in the editor’s letter. “Why are some rituals doomed to be lost to time, while others thrive and endure?”

The magazine first came to be in 2017 with Obi and photographer Medhi Lacoste hungry to acknowledge the work of Black men in music, fashion, and art. As such, Boy.Brother.Friend explores how masculine identities metabolise through the African diaspora – and its pages read like a who’s who of Black talent, with Mowalola, Damson Idris, Liz Johnson Artur, Nicholas Daley, Davido, Telfar Clemens, and Dazed’s IB Kamara all staring out from the publication’s insides. Having made a pit stop in Accra for its last issue, Obi’s fifth edition draws on the creativity of Berlin – where the magazine’s first ever shoot took place – as well as the routine productivity of German culture. “It’s representative of a ritualistic approach to engendering efficiency in both design and manufacturing,” he says. 

Across its 366 pages, Obi explores the chemistry between Europe and West Africa, with shoots from Wolfgang Tillmans spanning Accra, Abidjan, and Lagos, and James Tennessee Briandt, who documents the Ye-Yee-Ye Parade in Jamestown where men revel in crossdressing. Nestled between numerous fashion stories is a range of essays, creative writing, and interviews – in a Bottega Veneta special, rising musician Obongjayar discusses the personal rituals surrounding his making and performing of music, while a Burberry special sees art critic Antwaun Sargent discuss the past and future of Black creativity as it relates to his current exhibition, The New Black Vanguard

Click here to see more from – and buy – the SS23 edition of Boy.Brother.Friend