#Repost from @jaimeetodd — Thanks Jaimee! We love the fantasy of this. #inkscape #fantasy #ink #graphicdesign #digitalart —- Closer shot. #inkscape #portraits #abstract #purple #people #blackfolk #blackwomen #jaimeetodd ©Jaimee Todd
This world is a world of higher forces. - Fela Kuti #painting #BlackPresDC2014 #findingfela #indiefilm #dccelebratesfela
@sondaicr8tive & @parallelfilmcollective’s @cassie_scruggs preparing for the #BlackPresDC2014 Queen’s Stroll #facepaint #queensstroll #hbdfela
Finding Fela! post screening discussion to cap# off an excellent documentary. Limitations of the musical that come across in the documentary of his relation to an elite class; Wole Soyinka as his cousin, both of his parents being intellectuals, his 27 wives were not to be called prostitutes. @montremissouri “There is a radicalism in marrying this many women.” @parallelfilmcollective @lsp_onthego “Is there a danger in simplifying or romanticizong what is African?” @djausar is making it plain! #findingfela #cinema #indiefilm
Transformative and beautifully rendered. Well done @i_am_idil. “Fishing Without Nets” is epic. #justsaw #indiefilm #cinema #somalia #fishingwithoutnets #pirateperspective
All 13 minutes and 48 seconds of this song just hit the spot. Excited for the @parallelfilmcollective and @lsp_onthego screening of Finding Fela! tomorrow at @Marvin_DC
Here is the translation of our favorite verse via @msafropolitan:
If you call her a woman an African woman will not listen / She will tell you she is a lady / CHORUS: She will tell you she is a lady / Let me tell you about this “lady” / She believes she is equal to men / She believes she is as powerful as men / She will tell you that she can do anything men can do / Let me tell you / She is not ashamed of smoking in front of anyone / She demands that you open doors for her / She expects her man to do the dishes in her kitchen / She will sit down on a chair before saluting a man #findingfela #afrobeat #film #nigeria #lady #music #rebels #africa #blacpresident #BlackPresDC2014
Before you go there about Beyoncé, read this insight from @MsAfropolitan — she breaks it down religiously: “They say you should never discuss whether God exists or not at social events. There is another thing you should avoid discussing: Beyoncé Knowles. Trust me. Like religious devotees, those who worship Beyoncé see no fault in her. They find her, well, flawless. To them, she is an exemplification of all they aspire towards – beautiful, wealthy, a mother of an adorable little girl, a wife to a successful man, famous, talented, glamorous, sexy, smart (enough). On the other hand, those who loathe her, and the word ‘loathe’ is not superfluous here, do so in a way reminiscent of her representing the devil: they find her a manipulator of the worst sort, the type of woman who eats the proverbial apple of Eden and destroys the minds of young girls and older women alike. Those who stand somewhere in the middle, and who think well, maybe, she is a little bit of both, a little more more complex, well they just come across as plain confused. Just avoid the topic, OK.” #beyonce #flawless #entertainersasgod #celebrity #fame #wealth #beauty #martyrdom #goodandevil #appearances #strategicsilence #feminist
Thank you @theartinista for curating such a wonderful tour of @emergeartfair. I’m glad we saw this piece by Ndidi Emefiele. A mixed media painter and collage artist, she’s like a hip hop Wangechi Mutu. #emergeartfair #artinista #ndidiemefiele #art #nigeria #women
Nice to see our girl @OneikaRussell represented at @emergeartfair #art #conceptual #emergeartfair #jamaicanart
What does a chemist and a television journalist have to with furniture design?
At Live Unchained, we love people who forge novel paths, especially when these paths are not only new because of what they create, but also when they’re untried career and artistic trajectories in the lives of the people who tread them. It takes a lot of courage to do that, to trust yourself and the unknown, marching ahead.
Meet Elas. A furniture design company that takes antique Spanish pieces of furniture, reinvents, and “Africanizes them.” Started by a pair of Spanish-African friends, Berta (chemist) and Lucia (T.V. journalist), the venture is a celebration of their multicultural identities and more importantly, a recognition of it. Because of Spain’s relatively small population of people of African descent, it’s an ethnic and cultural subset that is often forgotten, if at all acknowledged. And this is where Berta and Lucia come in. Straddling the African and the Spanish, they created a brand that reflects both facets of their identity in pieces of furniture that are uniquely beautiful. An example: an antique Spanish chair is rejuvenated with African-influenced patterned fabric and given a name inspired by the Spanish epic, Don Quixote.
More than being a melding of two cultures, Elas is also a testimony to female empowerment, the filling of socio-cultural gaps by women who dare to do. In this interview, we speak with Lucia about the origins of the brand, why it’s named Elas, and what it means to live unchained.
How did you and Berta come to work together?
Berta and I have known each other since we were small. Now, we both live in Spain. Our families are both from Ecuatorial Guinea and we belong to the same tribe fang: Nzomo, which means “intrepid.” We have both been intrepid since starting “ELAS,” coming from worlds far away from design. Berta is a chemist and I am a television journalist. We’re both continuing our professions, but decided we want to explore other areas.
What is unique about what your brand, “Elas” offers?
Just the touch of which we spoke of before: Our mestizo identity. We are Spanish, originating in Equatorial Guinea (the only country in Africa where Spanish is spoken). And so, our furniture design can be described as “deeply Spanish.” Elas has antique pieces dating back to the 20th century, some 50, 70 and more years ago. But, Elas reinterprets, rejuvenates and Africanizes them.
Where did the name, “Elas,” come from?
What has the Elas reception been like? Why do people like to invest in your designer chairs?
Well, these chairs are unique and exclusive, not chairs made in series in a workshop. They are antiques that reflect different points of Spain with a history behind them, in addition to a wood that has endured perfectly over the years for its excellent quality. On the other hand, the fabric, colors, convert them into something completely different. They have a classic cut, but are very fun. They are more discrete, such as the armachairs’ black cloth with wax golden African. By the way, these are called Sancho, such as the companion of Don Quixote de La Mancha, and are bolder as our Rocinante (the horse that Don Quixote rode upon) that has an explosion of color. As you can see, the names that we have made the furnishings are from one of the great and universal works of Spanish literature: Don Quijote de la Mancha. The wheelchair star, which also gives its name to the collection is Dulcinea, was the love of Don Quixote. This antique daybed dates back to the 30s, with fuchsia cloth and pistachio.
You’ve said: “We have wanted to show a different Spain, a Spain where the African and not only a part, but that perfectly fits.” Can you say more about what this means to you?
I think being black or biracial in Spain means, for some of us, we are constantly seeking our identity. The reality is that what we live has little to do with the black descendants of the French, English, Portuguese or Americans, for example. Basically, as a group, blacks in Spain are a very small population and lack respect and recognition as national in our own country (also as a matter of quantity). Seeking ourselves, Berta and I went to live and work a season for the country of our parents and there we discovered that we are not there. We are the product of the two sites, we are both and that enriches us.
I always think of the book “Killer Identities” of Amin Maalouf, Lebanese, french, Christian … His reading invites you to not box yourself in. No human being is only one thing. However, what happens is that, when we believe that any of our facets is threatened, we tend to project it on to “the other.” Travel, research and reading has helped us see that, like all human beings, we are wealthy to be many things, in our case, women, European, African.
How can we buy the chairs?! Are you taking international orders?
We’ll start in a popular physical store in the Salamanca area of Madrid and in October. We will sell online via www.elasstore.com. We want ELAS to reach every corner of the world. For now, you can learn more about ELAS at our Facebook page.
What does living unchained mean to you?
It is something vital. It is to have all the help that we need at the touch of a click. All of us together, to see that it is possible that we are more black women, more active than we believe. It is to have hope and encouragement to continue creating and growing. It is … a lot. From my personal point of view, it is also a joy to see how this project is growing. I remember when it began and, now, years later, it is a large network that continues to increase!
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Written by Kathryn Buford and Nesrien Hamid.
Afropolitan furniture: When Spanish antiques get an African identity and feminine touch What does a chemist and a television journalist have to with furniture design? At Live Unchained, we love people who forge novel paths, especially when these paths are not only new because of what they create, but also when they’re untried career and artistic trajectories in the lives of the people who tread them.
Will visual art ever be as ubiquitous & accessible as music or fashion? It can be with #wavemakers like @ingridlafleur Today this #Detroit #curator speaks with @liveunchained on #art and #pleasure. #creativesoul #artlover #educator
A native of Detroit and a family of artists, Ingrid Lafleur is a dedicated creative whose work is intent on bringing art to the “masses.” An art curator, hosting shows and exhibitions in cities as far-flung as Paris and Johannesburg, Lafleur wants to make visual art accessible, as ubiquitous “as music or fashion.” Her art tour company, Wanderlust, organizes art excursions around the world,…
There are some who find their niche in the vast world of art and creating and run with it. Far. They take the prosaic, something there, we all know, heard about, or even used, and they turn it into art or performance, a spectacle that draws people in. This is what Marawa did and does. A hula-hooping goddess, she wows the world with shows, so incredible, they incorporate hula-hoops, color, and a…
Wahidah’s dreams. Art by me. #artlife #wahidahfowler #artist #painter #blackartist #femaleartist
Photos by Madelene Cronje.