British photographer Nadine Ijewere will open her debut solo show later this week at C/O Berlin. Titled Nadine Ijewere . Beautiful Disruption and running from 29 May – 2 September 2021, the exhibition is an amalgamation and celebration of Ijewere’s career disrupting a staid fashion industry.
Having grown up in southeast London in the early 1990s, Ijewere was surrounded by imagery that promoted a fixed beauty ideal far removed from the diversity of her immediate surroundings. It was an experience that led her to photography, to challenge this, and over the years Ijewere has developed a visual world born from the belief that beauty comes in many forms. “I find beauty in all its facets,” she says in a recent press release. “My work is about showcasing different forms of beauty that I believe our society could do a better job of representing. We are so different, and I think it is especially important to show this in the world of fashion. I follow this principle when I cast models and also by exploring my own origins and identity.”
Nowhere was this belief clearer than in Ijewere’s 2017 series Ugly for Vogue Italy. The series featured a diverse range of models displaying unconventional forms of beauty and led to British Vogue commissioning her to create a cover in January 2019. A landmark (and well overdue) commission, Ijewere was, in turn, the first woman of colour to photograph a cover for the 125-year-old publication. The ideas of Ugly and Ijewere’s ensuing work ring true throughout Nadine Ijewere . Beautiful Disruption which features work from several projects.
Ijewere describes the process of bringing together her first solo show remotely as challenging. “As difficult as it is not being there in person, I am grateful for the technology we have that makes this possible. Colour and texture is something very important to me, not being able to see it in the flesh has been tough,” she tells It’s Nice That. Collaborating with the team at C/O Berlin has made it possible though and they’ve discussed layout and colour options as well as frames via post. “It has been a surreal process but it’s coming together beautifully,” she adds.
The title of the show is pertinent to Ijewere, reflecting how she views her practice but also her hopes for the future of the industry. “My work has been penetrating an industry which for so long has shut us out,” she says. “This to me is a beautiful disruption. One day I hope this will no longer be seen as ‘disruption’. For Black people to be present why must something have to be disturbed? Instead of kicking down doors one would hope the doors won’t exist in the future, we will all just be welcome.” She echoes this sentiment when describing how hosting her first solo show feels “unreal, although it shouldn’t”. Growing up, she continues, “I didn't think this would be possible. It’s not common for a young Black female photographer to exist in a space like this. I hope this show further connects us and continues to break down the walls that divide us. I hope this inspires young people of colour to get involved in the industry. There is space for us to tell our stories.”
Nadine Ijewere: Flower Earrings, 2019, from the series What‘s Up for Garage (Copyright © Nadine Ijewere, 2019)
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Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.