In one of his famed self-portraits, Omar Victor Diop, a Senegalese photographer and artist, wears a three-piece suit and an extravagant paisley bow tie, preparing to blow a yellow, plastic whistle. The elaborately staged photograph evokes the memory of Frederick Douglass, the one-time fugitive slave who in the 19th century rose to become a leading abolitionist, activist, writer and orator, as well as the first African American to be nominated for vice president of the United States.
Through his bold images, Diop examines the interplay between African and diasporic experiences by knitting together the past and present.
“I am fascinated and surprised about how Africa is still present in everything an African American would do; they don’t even realize it,” said Diop, who lives and works in Dakar and Paris. “Sometimes you look at an African American in reality TV and you happen to be looking at your sisters and your aunts because of the expressions — it’s translated and said in English, but she could be in Dakar, speaking Wolof.”
Omar Victor Diop
In a 2015 self-portrait (top), from Diop’s series “Project Diaspora,” the artist emulates Frederick Douglass, who was the…
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