From the Series
On the heels of his Mengo Fightclub series and the wildly popular Kenya’s League of Extravagant Grannies, Osborne Macharia has unveiled a new photo series that is as intricate as much of his previous efforts. The photographer and digital artist’s latest offering is called KIPIRIRI 4 and is an exultant tribute to Kenya’s unsung female freedom fighters who fought for the nation’s independence in 1963 during the Mau Mau movement.
Known for his striking and imaginative fictional photographic narratives, Macharia’s work on KIPIRIRI 4 - which was released on 20 October 2016 to coincide with Mashujaa Day in Kenya - demonstrates his near-obsessive attention to detail and instinctively collaborative nature. Like his previous work, it includes constructed characters whose backstories are painstakingly detailed and features extensive, vital contributions from hairstylists Richard Kinyua and Corrine Muthoni and makeup artist Valary Mdeizi.
“Without the hair, there would be no shoot at all,” Macharia told Okay Africa. “Bobo is the leader so she had this thick hair. We made it out of a plant that is used in Kenya’s coastal region that we coloured black. You can see a pattern where there are strings of red. The idea was that she hides a road map in her hair, which only the second-in-command can interpret. The red lines depict the places that are dangerous.”
Sketched, designed and created in studio, the composite images embody the Afro-futuristic aesthetic that has contributed to Macharia’s rise to popularity over the past few years. By blending elements of history, science fiction and digital editing, he creates fantastical interrogations of Kenyan historical and social narratives.