Words: Aluwani Ratshiungo | Images: Bobby Rogers | Models: Seth Aryee, Valentino Emwin
Visual artist, Bobby Rogers released his latest photo series, titled Catch a Fade which aims to highlight the cultural and aesthetic significance of the Black barbershop.
Bobby is a is a visual artist and designer from Minnesota who confronts the deniability of blackness through photography and uses his photography to depict blackness as one of the most beautiful creations. Much of his work centers on the complexity of communities of color and capturing this complexity through extremely expressive visuals.
Fade haircuts are one of the trendiest, if not iconic, hairstyles at the moment. The series features Seth Aryee and Valentino looking dapper with their freshly cut fades and exuding black boy magic.
The common theme in your work seems to be black identity and culture or the black experience, why is that so important?
It’s important to use my work as an act of resistance. I capture my subjects very unapologetically. I want the spirit of their ancestors to beat through them proclaiming their majesty in all of its spiritedness.
What was the creative process behind ‘Catch a Fade’?
Catch a Fade was a project in the works for a long while before I got to the action of shooting. Connor Rice, the curator of “The Shop”, brought the idea of the show and creating work centering the Black barbershops to me a few years back while we were completing our BFA’s. Since then many ideas and aesthetic shifts have come and gone. For better or worst, I’m a perfectionist and tend to spend a lot of time ideating, mapping projects, critiquing my ideas, and curating every aspect of the final idea.
Catch a Fade wasn’t as taxing as other works because I’ve collaborated with the homies Valentino Emwin and Seth Aryee several times before. Instead of bringing on a stylist for the project I had them bring several different outfits, one white-on-white and others incorporating vibrant colors and patterns. The shoot lasted about 4 hours as we moved furniture and lighting around a local barbershop. Working in a space with such cultural significance & familiarity will always be enjoyable. Not only are the models pleasant, I’m also able to relax just enough to not overthink it all. The project is smooth and has a better possibility of the final being phenomenal this way.
You mentioned that the photo-essay highlights the cultural and aesthetic significance of the black barbershop. Can you elaborate on that significance?
A haircut can transform your entire disposition. You can walk into a barbershop an average person and within the hour you develop the sauce. You now have it. Obama could walk past you in the moments after you leave the shop and it wouldn’t matter because he doesn’t have the sauce, you do. It’s that simple. The politics of Black hair is consumed by a conversation on others perception of it. We seldom allow space to speak on one of it’s most important qualities. Liberation. Our hair, the black barbershop, a fade–gives you all-encompassing resolute freedom to be unapologetically you in a unfree society.