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Flurina Rothenberger I love to dress photo series 2015
Photography Flurina Rothenberger

Documenting style on the streets of Africa

Dismantling stereotypes, a new photobook celebrates self-confidence and style in Africa’s varied corners

How do you capture the scope, breadth and diversity of Africa? A plethora of lifestyles, dress codes, attitudes, moments in history, and landscapes, all just as exciting, or as banal, as each other. Photographer Flurina Rothenberger’s new book I love to dress like I am coming from somewhere and I have a place to go isn't one of those overly ambitious books trying to do that. Instead, frustrated by a lack of 'sober' portrayals of everyday life, Rothenberger is offering a small window into the varied corners of the continent.

Raised in the Ivory Coast before moving to Switzerland to study photography, Rothenberger grew tired of the west's generalisations of her homeland and embarked on the project with a mission statement to challenge such naivety. “Differing issues such as fashion or conflict pop up in the same manner, often overly enthusiastic or downbeat,” she says. “Both hold the sticky feel of outdated exotic. My portrayal of Africa is a modest personal selection of everyday life, glimpses that can not possibly reflect the huge diversity of such a vast continent.”

In a collaboration with graphic design team Hammer (founded by Sereina Rothenberger and David Schatz), Rothenberger's images are juxtaposed against hand-painted posters, text-panels and slogan posters, often seen in west Africa. “The intention of the edit is (to have) an open dialogue between the images, conveying a multitude of lifestyles where there is both the very specific and the similar,” she says. “It's as if people are always ready to 'get lucky' – dressed for the occasion. Not in a way of jittery self-consciousness, but rather, self-confident in appearance. A kind of sincere dignity expressed through exterior attributes. We all do this, but in our cultures we are often less honest in admitting that we are proving a point with how we dress.” 

I love to dress like I am coming from somewhere and I have a place to go is available from Edition Patrick Frey