The TRUE Africa 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today and tomorrow. We’re featuring them over 100 days and we’ve asked them all three questions.
Laetitia Ngoto is the founder of the festival Art’Press Yourself. The one-day event seeks to highlight work by creatives inspired by afro and urban culture working in the medium of art and fashion. The theme this year is ‘old-school vibes’ and is taking place on November 7 in Paris.
Why do you think afro-urban culture needs to be celebrated?
I’m French and my parents are from the Central African Republic. They’ve always passed on their knowledge of CAR to me through language, food, music and fashion.
Parallel to this I grew up in a working-class area, where you hung out with your friends on the streets. We all had different origins but we listened to the same hip hop and R’n’B, spoke the same ‘street’ language and wore the same type of clothes.
When I gathered my thoughts on the two cultures I’ve been immersed in since I was young, I realised how creative black people really are. We inspire the world through fashion, art, music and dance. Through Art’Press Yourself I want to show people the impact of afro-urban culture on the art world.
Afro-urban culture brings people together. It connects them regardless of origin, age and class. It’s evolved into a new era but it’s still really important to credit the predecessors and give the main creative players a platform.
Why do you think it’s important to give cultural forms like street dance or graffiti a higher profile in settings you wouldn’t normally expect them?
Art is not exclusive. We’ve seen a lot of collaborations that wouldn’t have happened 30 years ago. Graffiti artists now work with luxury brands. Street dancers have produced choreographies for world-renowned singers, like Michael Jackson and Beyoncé. This shows just how much creativity can break the ‘glass ceiling’ of the art world and open doors to touch even more people. This is really important for artists who want to make a living out of their passion.
Who’s your African of the year?
I don’t have one person in mind. Personally, it’s all the young Africans who’ve decided they want to live out their dream. The young Africans creating businesses to improve the world are my true Africans of the year.
Check out artpressyourself.com
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