Kristin-Lee Moolman and Ib Kamara represent one of the most exciting photographer-stylist duos working today. Hailing from South Africa and Sierra Leone respectively, the pair are putting ‘New Africa’ onto the fashion map through powerful and provocative images that blow tired clichés about the continent out of the water. Both featured in the Dazed 100 2017, Moolman’s work riles against conservative attitudes towards gender and sexuality, among other things, while her collaborator’s inspired approach to styling echoes that of Buffalo, the incendiary 1980s fashion collective helmed by Rei Petri. Kamara was, in fact, the last assistant to Buffalo member and muse, Barry Kamen. Together they’ve created a body of work that was displayed as part of Somerset House’s Utopian Voices Here & Now last year, along with images created for their own enjoyment – free from commercial or editorial restraints.
For their latest project however, which is unveiled exclusively here, the duo travelled to the Mallorcan holiday resort of Magaluf – on which young Europeans descend annually in their drunken masses – to create a photography series with Swedish footwear brand Eytys. “We wanted to explore the artificial world of European tourism through the lens of young people on holiday on their own,” explains Kamara, writing from Lagos, Nigeria. “That’s the energy of the story.” The young people in question represent a group of London club kids, many of whom he and Moolman know personally. “We cast mutual friends, people we have wanted to work with for a while,” he says. “Because they are all friends of ours, it just felt like going on holiday with some friends to create work.” Such friends include the inordinately elegant Grace Wales Bonner and model and illustrator King Owusu who appears in a lot of Kamara’s work, and is something of a muse to him. “King has become like a little brother to me,” Kamara commented. “He is the sweetest. He’s very talented and he looks great in everything.”
Owusu and the other subjects, who include sculptor and model Oliverbizhan Azarmi, pose on Magaluf’s white sandy beaches, in the ocean or in and around the resort’s gigantic hotel complexes. Shot in Moolman’s signature sun-drenched style, the models demonstrate Kamara’s styling prowess – which led his Central Saint Martins lecturer to declare him one of the most talented students he’s seen in 16 years, and British singer Sampha to enlist him to style and design the costumes for his stunning short film Process. Clothes, accessories and beachwear like you’ve never seen it before are coupled together in unexpected and highly imaginative ways in a series of images that will feature in a limited edition publication titled Magaluf! – as well as in an exhibition curated by Eytys creative director Max Schiller. Opening at CFHILL in Stockholm on April 20, 2017, 2026 will additionally feature more examples of Moolman and Kamara’s collaborative work. “In my job I always keep my eyes and ears open after people who are way more talented than I am,” says Schiller. “Sometimes I come across work that blows my mind, and it’s often far away from the usual fashion circuit. When I first saw Kristin-Lee and Ib’s work I was in instant awe, it completely changed my view on fashion photography.”
2026 is on display at CFHILL in Stockholm from April 7 until May 12, 2017.