On Our Radar: “Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity”

Hammonds House Museum will kick off it 2019 season on January 18 with “Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity,” a photography exhibition curated by Shantrelle P. Lewis highlighting the contemporary expressions of the Black Dandy phenomenon in popular culture.

The first comprehensive exhibition of its kind, Dandy Lion highlights young men who defy stereotypical and monolithic understandings of Black masculinity by remixing Victorian-era fashion with traditional African sartorial sensibilities. Using their self-fashioned bodies as sites of resistance, contemporary Black dandies are complicating modern narratives of what it means to be Black, masculine and fashionable in the 21st century. Dandy Lion was initially curated to introduce a conversation and perspective on Black men and Black masculinity that was hidden behind a barrage of media-led messaging that painted Black men as hypermasculine, thuggish and violent. The Black Dandy celebrated in the exhibition is a self-fashioned gentleman who intentionally assimilates classical European fashion with African Disaporan aesthetics and sensibilities. He is a rebel—a modern-day representation of the African trickster. His style and identity are generally a contradiction of the stereotypes, boxes, categories, or ideas that society typically apply to him.

To date, the exhibition has traveled to major and community institutions throughout the United States and Europe. After a successful run in 2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago that attracted over 17,000, the exhibition is now organized by the aforementioned. In Spring 2017, Dandy Lion was published as a coffee table book by Aperture. “Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity” is on view at Hammonds House Museum January 18 – April 28, 2019. The opening reception is January 18 at 6:30 p.m.. A conversation with curator, Shantrelle P. Lewis will be held on January 19 at 2 p.m. at Auburn Avenue Research Library.

Dandy Lion is organized by The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago.

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