How do you capture the scope, breadth and diversity of Africa? A plethora of lifestyles, dress codes, attitudes, moments in history, and landscapes, all just as exciting, or as banal, as each other. The book I love to dress like I am coming from somewhere and I have a place to go isn't one of those overly ambitious books trying to do that. Instead, Instead, frustrated by a lack of 'sober' portrayals of everyday life, Rothenberger is offering a small window into the varied corners of the continent. (Ashley Kane, bookreview for Dazed)
Raised in Côte d'Ivoire and having spent most of my career photographing the continent where I grew up, I observed that the west's generalization of Africa was no myth but a fact. Differing issues such as fashion or conflict pop up in the same manner, often overly enthusiastic or downbeat. Both hold the sticky feel of outdated exotic. The portrayals in my book are a modest personal selection of everyday life, glimpses that can not possibly reflect the huge diversity of such a vast continent.
In a collaboration with graphic design team Hammer (founded by Sereina Rothenberger and David Schatz), the images are juxtaposed against hand-painted posters, text-panels and slogan posters, often seen in west Africa. The intention of the edit is (to have) an open dialogue between the images, conveying a multitude of lifestyles where there is both the very specific and the similar. It's as if people are always ready to 'get lucky' – dressed for the occasion. Not in a way of jittery self-consciousness, but rather, self-confident in appearance. A kind of sincere dignity expressed through exterior attributes. We all do this, but in many western cultures, I find we are often less relaxed and honest in admitting that we are proving a point with how we dress.
I love to dress like I am coming from somewhere and I have a place to go. Images from the African continent 2004-2014. published by Edition Patrick Frey, 2015