One of the beauties of this job is that you never stop learning, and I know a heck of a lot more about West African barber’s shops than I did when commencing to write about Andrew Esiebo’s photographic study of the subject. Nigerian-born Esiebo has been on a tour of eight West African cities – Lagos (Nigeria), Cotonou (Benin), Accra (Ghana), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Monrovia (Liberia), Bamako (Mali), Dakar (Senegal) and Nouakchott (Mauritania) – investigating this often-overlooked but culturally important aspect of society, and his collected findings are now on display under the title Pride at Tiwani Contemporary, West London.
The exhibition is organised into four sections. Urban Aesthetics takes an exterior view, looking at how the colourful, hand-painted shop fronts interact with the street life outside. In Nuances, Esiebo notes the global similarities and recognisable symbols of the barber, while The Barbers focuses on the men at work. Rounding out the collection is Style, positing a powerful link between the hairstyles of black men to their social identity. The cut-off date for Pride is 8 February.