SANFORD BIGGERS: I am actually a Japanese artist wearing the mask of a Black man manufactured by a White person to look like your idea of a rapper.

The Brooklyn Museum was buzzing on Thursday night, May 24th. Creatives from all over New York City were decked out in their flyest Afro-prints and chunky glasses, gathered for the screening of The Triptych, the latest documentary film series by Terence Nance, presented by Afro-Punk Pictures and the Weeksville Heritage Center.

TERENCE NANCE: When you need something done, you often look to hire people, but you forget that your friends are capable, creative people, and often make the best team.

You may know Nance, Triptych’s Director, and Shawn Peters, Director of Photography, from their collaboration with Blitz the Ambassador on the short film Native Sun (2011), a 20-minute audio-visual treat shot in Ghana. The two also directed the recent Sundance premiere, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. The Triptych offers a bit more narrative than these abstract delights, but is equally wacky, magical, and visually delicious.

WANGECHI MUTU: The Kikuyu religion that spoke to me was overtaken by Christianity. You had to be Christian in order to be a part of modernity.

The Triptych highlights the work of artists Sanford Biggers, Wangechi Mutu, and Barron Claiborne. The twenty-minute assemblages of interviews, artworks, photographs, text, and abstraction blur the line between life and art, reality and representation. The three profiles, works of art in themselves, are clever, challenging, and laugh-out-loud funny.

BARRON CLAIBORNE: I know how people see me and I know I’m nothing like it. Blackness is an illusion.

CLAIBORNE: “Person” comes from “persona” which means mask…. I’m not really at war with anything. I don’t really care. I just want to do what I want.

BIGGERS: Black black black quack post-black. The way blackness is scrutinized on a daily basis, it fucks your head up. It’s not about the mask, but what’s behind it. The duality ingrained in society and the various avatars within yourself.

The conversations invite us to explore the experiences and observations behind Biggers’s subversive performance and installation pieces, Mutu’s mythical collage creatures, and Claiborne’s beautiful and wry photographs.

WANGECHI MUTU: My creations are mythical, magical, beyond human.

BIGGERS: As an artist, I find history like a sculptural material – malleable – the meanings reassembled to make new features.

The shorts are the first in what promises to be a vibrant and significant series. Nance and Claiborne, Co-Director, conceived the project together, expanded to include Mutu and Biggers, and will continue to chronicle the work, lives, and practices of some of the freshest visual artists today.


After the films closed, the wit and humor continued through a Q&A led by Ghanaian journalist and writer Esther Armah. The group of four friends could not stop laughing, even while engaging complex racial and socio-historical theory. They touched upon commonalities in the way they embrace grayness and reject binaries of black and white. They addressed the strong family influences that have pushed them in their work, and the challenges they still face in the art market despite their success. Claiborne said that while artists like Damien Hirst have mastered how to monetize their work, many of those who have been labeled as Black artists are still figuring it out. As the audience geared up for applause, Claiborne winked, “Now everyone should pay me $100 on their way out, meet you in the lobby.”


As if the three gorgeous films and a brilliant Q&A were not enough, the after-party did not disappoint. The artists and filmmakers stuck around to chat with audience-members, while Eclectic Method projected rap video remixes against the glass entrance. Claiborne kept his camera going the whole night, making live art portraits in front of his signature bright print screen.


Celebrity spottings included Mos Def a.k.a. Yasiin Bey, Rahiem of Grandmaster Flash, Ghanaian filmmaker Sam Kessie and Rwandan electropop singer Iyadede aka “That Girl from Africa.”


Good thing Brooklyn’s finest photographers were out to capture the fabulous evening. It was one dope night of art, film, and music…and should be just the first of many.

*photos + words by Robin Riskin aka @rriskinitall



dancer/healer LYFE SILVA’s star trek, Courtesy of @stylelikeu

We go beatnuts for innovative style. And this historical moment is producing some really fresh and distinct African designers. Bold mod patterns, chunky cultural prints, vivid psychadelic palettes, and undeniable street swag are fast becoming the defining elements of this emerging, global motley crew.

Hip hop artist, @theophiluslondon’s bogga style/ @stylelikeu

Style provides an amazing lens for us to communicate and interpret our relationship with the environment, i.e. who we are to the world and what the world is to us. Style is a cool and critical feature of the African imagination. Through style we show our understanding of the world and our place in it.

Designers DYNASTY + SOUL’s Migration Fashion / @stylelikeu

There are some chill folk we’d like you to meet. Twice a month, we’ll post a style segment on the blog featuring fascinating Ghanaian and African designers, stylists, and everyday gamechangers who think deeply and creatively about style, identity and artistic capacity.

Take a look at what our antennas picked up this week.

GHANAIAN designer Ozwald Boateng’sI Love Soweto” photoshoot:

From the beginning I have always wanted to shoot this collection in Africa, and The ‘I Love Soweto’ shoot captured what I was trying to do so beautifully. Spring/Summer 2012 essentially represents a European take on an African aesthetic, and my African heritage coupled with the setting of Soweto really gave the concept it’s authenticity’.

To learn more about @OzBoateng‘s design journey, check out A Man’s Story (2010):

NIGERIAN designer, Andrea Iyamah’s divine vintage future collections, abstract sketches and natty blog:

Peep Iyamah’s DinMa Collection (“It is Beautiful”) in action:


We recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Sierra McClain, a writer with in NYC. Afro-Punk got hip to our Kickstarter project and contacted us for a writeup.

This was an awesome feat for our team as we are inspired by Matthew Morgan and James Spooner’s seminal documentary film Afro-Punk (2003) which examines how an international network of young Black artists and aficionados are increasingly identifying with alternative music and art.  Oh and did we mention the annually free Afro-Punk Festival in Brooklyn ( hosted since 2005) that draws throngs of folk from across the globe to jam together to the likes of indie stars Cee-Lo Green, Janelle Monae, Mos Def, Santigold, Fishbone, J*Davey and Saul Williams, among others. Dopeness in a basket.

Here’s a teaser from the article:

The political world temperature right now is at an historic high. From a revolution that began on the streets of NYC to youth in London and the Middle East taking part in uprisings against oppressive governments, a La Résistance mindset rules the day. In Accra, Ghana, a couple of visionaries are building a movement of their own; one part indie artist collective, one part community dialogue generator, ACCRA[dot]ALT tackles head on the issues facing not only the music community, but society as a whole. With monthly events like the Talk Party Series, ACCRA[dot]ALT founders Mantse Aryeequaye and Dr. Sionne Neely provide a space for the open exchange of ideas and the non-judgmental exploration of cultural mindsets on topics that may have been deemed too taboo for discussion before now, with a desired effect of increased unity, tolerance and respect.

Read the full article here: