All million dollar smiles, sashes and bikini rounds, the world of beauty pageants is an ever fascinating one. Offering another insight into this strange parade of femininity, a new exhibition in east London showcases a beautiful selection of images of black beauty pageants shot in west London from the late 1960s to the 1980s by the late Raphael Albert.
The Grenada-born photographer shot pageants including Miss Black and Beautiful, Miss West Indies in Great Britain and Miss Grenada, which celebrated the black women so often left out of mainstream fashion imagery. The competitions were an area that frequently marginalised women of the time could really own, and celebrate their heritage in.
Renée Mussai, the exhibition’s curator says: “Imbued with an exquisite, revolutionary sensuality and a certain joie de vivre, Raphael Albert’s photographs embody an aura of hedonistic confidence in a new generation of black women coming of age in Britain during the 1970s, fuelled by complex (body) politics of national identity, difference and desire.”
More than 50 images will go on show, spanning black and white fibre prints, colour and vintage photographs, as well as a selection of archive materials and ephemera.
Raphael Albert’s Miss Black and Beautiful is on show from 8 July – 24 September at Rivington Place, London.
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