Adama Paris, first artist exhibition

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Adama Paris, the famous Senegalese fashion designer and entrepreneur takes part in Connecting Afro Futures.
Adama is presenting a series of hair related artworks. This exhibition is available in Berlin’sKunsgewerbemuseum (Germany) until Sunday 1st December 2019.

We had the opportunity to interview Adama Paris at the opening of Connecting Afro Futures. Before going further, let’s introduce her.

Adama Paris, a multi-talents woman

Adama Amanda Ndiaye A.K.A. Adama Paris is very well known in the Afro French-speaking world and even beyond it. She is a Senegalese woman. Adama speaks more than 5 languages fluently and has a background in economic sciences and the bank industry.
She then wanted to devote herself to her passion and studied fashion design in Paris, France.
From this, Adama launched her brand and become known as Adama Paris.
Following that, she has been creating and developing various projects and initiatives in the fashion industry such as Dakar Fashion Week and Black Fashion Week, now Black Fashion Experience.

As a fashion designer and entrepreneur Adama Paris enjoys working on several aspects of beauty, especially the beauty of African Women. Throughout her woman journey, Adama has been exploring, discovering and embodying her inner beauty with her hair. She is sharing it with powerful visual pieces of art.

Hair is not only hair, even though it’s just hair at the end!

Adama Paris, shameless Afro hair

Adama Paris -Shameless Afro Hair - photo by Mario Epanya
Adama Paris -Shameless Afro Hair – photo by Mario Epanya

Amanie Magazine asks, How do you get your hairstyles inspirations?
Adama Paris says, “First of all, I see my hair as a dress. It means I often enjoy changing its style. Throughout the time I tend to like more and more styles. My Senegalese and Fulani roots are amazing idea providers. I dig into my grand-mother pictures, my mum pictures to analyse their hairstyles and adapt it to my personality. I also try to modernise some. My hairdresser participates in this process too.”

What about your transition period? How did it happen?
“There wasn’t a specific event or moment. It has happened throughout my personal development. I have been aligning with my true self through Adama Paris and my other various projects. My hair journey is linked to this achievement. It might look only business-oriented, but my career has always played a key role in my life. I knew that I wanted to achieve something through my entrepreneurship and this helped me make peace with myself.”

What would you say to a teenager or a young woman entering her hair transition period?
“To start it’s a very intimate question. Therefore I don’t advise anyone; I could just share with you how I perceive it. Now that I have been through different steps, I do believe that hair is a strong part of our identity. You feel it even more as a Black woman when you are in a context where you don’t see yourself included in the ‘standards’.
To all teenagers out there ‘You’re going to change. Just try to be the best version of yourself. If you want to have straight hair, short hair, blond hair … just do it as its best and enjoy it! It is the part of your identity that you’re exploring and expressing at this moment’.

The afro hair allegory

All the attendees at the opening of Connecting Afro Futures have enjoyed a meaningful contemporary performance. We call it “the afro hair allegory” inspired by our talk with Adama Paris.

Adama has designed and set this piece as a representation of her hair journey. It begins with the main character surrounded by a lot of hair; it is the only element in her environment. She is so much focusing on it.
When you take a step outside and open your perspectives you see various Black women silhouettes. They are the future versions of her. They neither have face nor hair. Why is it so? These future versions will have the face and hair that the main character will decide to create. Hair is not an issue anymore.

It sounds like a tale. A story to tell to young girls while they start looking for their identity.
“Indeed, it is. I perceive it as a transition ritual. In African traditions, tales and rituals play such an important role. However, I regret that we don’t speak enough about painful themes that are part of the journey. Exploring and accepting one’s identity is a process. You must go through it to fully feel comfortable with yourself.
Changing hairstyles can be the main path to work on it. It could also go through something else. Having black skin doesn’t make us all the same.
The only thing that I cannot support is skin bleaching.”

We talk about hair and identity. Now we observe more and more discussions on cultural appropriation, especially regarding hairstyles. What do you think about that?
“I feel that it’s an over-used expression. Paying a tribute or being inspired by must be differentiated from plagiarism. I would say when you copy me to be like me, it simply means that you love my style. Our cultures go beyond boarders and they have always inspired people. What is important is to remind people who don’t already do so, that they must credit the original source. It’s also an opportunity to educate more people.”

Adama Paris, the visual artist

Before closing this interview, we would like to know more about your artistic process.
Connecting Afro Futures is my first exhibition as an artist. I have started with the photos shooting. The photographer Mario Epanya took several pictures of me that represent some perspectives on my identity.”

Did you already know how you wanted to work with these pictures?
“Not at all! I knew that I would explore my hair journey and identity. So I’ve just posed with different facial expressions.”

How have you started “customizing” your pictures?
“The two or three months following the shooting, I haven’t done anything. I was only looking at the canvas and the frames. As a photography lover, I have been scrolling my Instagram feed as well! Then I decided to go for 3D self-portraits. I have directly created the hairstyles on the pictures. I have pretty much enjoyed doing it.”

How do you feel now with all your portraits exhibited?
“I am happy, excited and curious about how people receive it.
These portraits represent all the women I have been and all the women I am.

Are you going to keep on it?
“Yes, I am. I would love to create again with pictures. It doesn’t need to be hair. The technics have been so much interested.
After Connecting Afro Futures, my portraits are certainly going to be exhibited in some Parisian galleries and maybe in New York!”

Adama Paris creations have definitely an Afro-futuristic spirit. This theme is to be further explored in our upcoming article.