Daniel Obasi and Clement Ogogh are creatives in a notoriously ambitious city, “There is definitely a strong sense of competition here in Lagos,” they say, “it’s almost toxic. Everyone is really interested in making money and being relevant. The competition helps to push us as artists out of our comfort zone but we still believe in collaboration. Nothing compares to the magic that’s possible when the best heads come together as a team.”
Like all good contemporary collaborations, Daniel and Clement had been stalking each other on Instagram before ever meeting in person. Daniel says, “[Clement] had this soft yet textured way of making images that spoke to me personally. He was attracted to my story telling, use of interesting backgrounds and the quirky way I saw things visually.”
Each make work independently, but what defines their collaborative output is concept and the challenging of accepted norms. More specifically, a big theme in their work is the intentional reimagining of what African masculinity looks like. In their images, male models pose in suits paired with golden drop earrings; sunshine falls on sculpted stomach muscles visible under a cropped top. Daniel says, “We are always trying to engage the conversation on masculinity on different levels, especially in Africa, approaching it from a soft, flattering and exciting point of view. We understand that it’s such a niche and fragile subject matter, but what it represents for us is a future where people are comfortable with being who they are irrespective of gender.”
Daniel and Clement want their work to speak of freedom and non-conformity: freedom to own your life, your ideas, freedom to dream and create your own voice, regardless of popular opinion. They say, “Like a message out of the fight against apartheid, like the walk to Selma and like the fight against racism, we want our works to inspire action not just for today but as a reference point for generations to come. No one will tell our stories better than we can, neither will anyone change the stereotypes of African imagery unless we decide to tell the world what Africa is for us.”
Adapted from an interview by Casimir that first appeared on Hunger TV.
All photographs shot by Clement Ogoh and styled by Daniel Obasi.