After photographing for more than a decade in countries across Africa, Flurina Rothenberger decided the time had come to do something with the vast archive of images she had amassed. In 2015 the Swiss photographer, who grew up on the Côte d’Ivoire, teamed up with the graphic designers behind Hammer and imprint Edition Patrick Frey to produce I love to dress like I am coming from somewhere and I have a place to go. The book is Rothenberger’s take – and a nuanced one at that – on the fashions, personalities, and passions of the people she encountered on her travels: “a modest personal selection of glimpses of Africa that cannot possibly reflect the huge diversity of such a vast continent, comprising 54 independent countries and a correspondingly wide range of peoples, lifestyles and cultures,” she writes.
In particular, Rothenberger found herself drawn to the topics of urbanisation and the younger generation, and how what is happening socially influences young people’s identities and shapes the way they live. If the book is a thrilling mash-up of text and images – from images of individuals who exude personality and dress in amazing outfits, to aerial shots of urban landscapes, posters, street art, and archival photographs – then it pays homage to the eclecticism of culture she encountered. “Whether it’s fashion or music, everything is mixed together and sampled, says Rothenberger, “and a lot of creativity happens at the joins.”
Never staging what she sees, Rothenberger works in a collaborative way, taking situations from real life, which her subjects make their shots their own, she says. Of the lyrical-sounding title of her book – it comes from a quote she read, which “summed up [my work] really well… If you are willing to be lucky, you have to dress as though you are willing to be lucky – because any moment could be your moment.”
I love to dress like I am coming from somewhere and I have a place to go is out now, published by Edition Patrick Frey. It was recently on display as part of JaipurPhoto.