“Freedom is no fear” - on Kristin-Lee Moolman & IB Kamara
Agnes Grefberg Braunerhielm
The clothes are the thing – the look is the thing – in IB Kamara’s and Kristin-Lee Moolman’s work. And this is despite the fact, or maybe because of the fact, that the clothes actually are “nothing”. Kamara and Moolman sourced the clothes and accessories the men in the photos are wearing from skips and local thrift shops. These are not clothes a designer created with an eye to making relevant fashion. Still, to me the outfits connote the exact idea Kamara and Moolman want them to signify: the future. “2026” is a dream about a utopia ten years on, a utopia where male sexuality, and especially black male sexuality, is free and open to other definitions. These works tell you a story about a world where norms, ideals and prejudice about black masculinity aren’t a prison fenced in by racism and colonialism. This utopia is expressed through and on the body.
“2026 is escapism,” Kamara explains, “It’s all the things I long to be, it’s the black man I aspire to be: expressive, confident, not holding back, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or race.”
And just as the men in the photos are from a space-time that isn’t here (yet), the clothes they are wearing are not treated as though they carry any collective memory, either. The look is post-gender. The purpose of the fashion is not to distinguish a man from a woman, or create an androgynous style; rather it intends to dissolve gender altogether to form a more true idea of masculinity.
Kamara explains his point of view best himself: “Because I often clash with fashion’s conventions, it evokes an awareness of my consciousness.” The clash which these works subject us to create a catharsis in our gaze. It is fashion at its most urgent – demanding that the eye remodel the inner, never-asked-for workings of the brain and how we perceive each other, presenting another reality – one that rejects the immanent constructions of this world. Which is one definition of art.