Delali Ayivi

London, United Kingdom
delali ayivi

Art and Photography

The photographer helping champion the creatives of Togo.
Delali Ayivi

Delali Ayivi’s view of the world is expansive. Through her work she places cultures in dialogue with one another, and urges her audiences away from the isolationist and towards the collective. The Togolese-German photographer was born in the US and was educated in Malawi, then London, where she first picked up a camera and started shooting.

Ayivi’s focus is the culture of the Black diaspora, and her photos are motivated by a Pan-African ethic that seeks the unification and empowerment of African cultures through the celebration of their art, literature, music and fashion. Photography runs in Ayivi’s blood: her great grandfather, Alex A. Acolaste, was one the first Togolese photographers.

In 2019, Ayivi and her friend Malaika Nabilla, a Togolese fashion activist, felt there was an absence in the discourses surrounding African fashion — one that didn’t account for the work put out by Togolese creatives. While so much attention has been given to the fashion scenes in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa, the world is still sleeping on Togo. To rectify this, the duo created Togo Yeye — meaning New Togo — a conceptual publication that championed Togo’s stylists, designers, writers, make-up artists and models.

Ayivi is invested in how difference and cultural specificity can be a source of power. During the vital Black Lives Matters Protests in 2020, she produced images of protestors that would speak to the institutionalisation of racism in Germany. The importance of redressing historical imbalances and erasure is clear in all of her work.

Text Gazelle Mba