Born and raised in Zuénoula, Côte d'Ivoire, Flurina Rothenberger is a Swiss-based photographer whose vibrant imagery captures Africa’s unique street life. Aware of the nuances and ambiguities that characterise the continent, her work seeks to counter the Western media’s typical portrayal of Africa.
Rothenberger’s 2016 photobook, I love to dress like I am coming from somewhere and I have a place to go is an archive of this beautiful imagery taken everywhere from Morocco to Madagascar.
A collaborative venture with graphic design team Hammer – made up of David Schatz and the photographer’s sister, Sereina Rothenberger – I love to dress like I am coming from somewhere and I have a place to go features traditional portraiture and snap shots of everyday life from across Africa.
While she didn’t intentionally set out to document that fashion of those she encountered, this angle was something that emerged naturally during her travels. She found that many people she encountered – young and old – always seemed dressed for the occasion. Not in a self-conscious manner, but rather, dignified and self-confident in appearance.
“It was never a deliberate choice to set a focus on style,” the artist explains in an interview with Foto Room. “I suppose what is perceived is the genuine expression of confidence and care which people give their appearance.”
Shot over the course of ten years, Rothenberger was careful to avoid the overly enthusiastic or downbeat mood that many images of African life tend to convey. She had a very clear vision of what she did not want the book to become and was cognisant that her work could never reflect the huge diversity of such a vast continent.
“The impetus to describe the entire African continent in a few words is thoughtless,” says Rothenberger. “Africa is many fascinating and ambiguous things, but it is certainly not a poor continent.”
Aside from her own photographic work, Rothenberger is also the co-founder of KLAYM, an independent association and movement started in 2015 that is dedicated to supporting, training and publishing talented photographers, visual artists and writers from African countries.
Early this year, Klaym released the second edition of The Nice Magazine; a youth-focused magazine that gives young Africans the opportunity to speak for themselves through original text and imagery. Featuring stories from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, this issue showcases the multiple perspectives of a young generation of working creatives.
Envisioned as both a business card for contributors, and a stand alone magazine that highlights contemporary creative work from the African continent, the publication’s young contributors have used the platform to reflect on different forms of urban street culture, music, media and fashion and share their thoughts on sexuality, gender, child labor, social stigma and more.
You can learn more about Rothenberger’s work by visiting her website or keep up with the photographer by following her on Instagram. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of The Nice Magazine, you can learn more at KLAYM.org.
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