Catch the new body of work by Beninese photographer Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou ‘Citizens of Porto-Novo‘, at the Jack Bell Gallery in London before it ends on May 25th. This ongoing portraiture project captures the people of Benin’s capital. Using a daylight studio and a medium format camera, Agbodjelou interprets the experience of a generation caught between tradition and progress.
This new series looks at Porto-Novo’s competitive bodybuilders who compete locally and nationally; the subjects aspire to one day achieve recognition beyond West Africa and work towards a better life in Europe. The bodybuilders have been a popular subject in African studio photography since the 1950s and 60s, yet for this series Agbodjelou has them holding fake flowers, a somewhat incongruous touch,
Plastic flowers have always been used in the traditional studios to show style and taste. I thought they added a nice contrast to the musclemen.