Pride | Andrew Esiebo

Barbers and hairstyles in Western Africa


Andrew Esiebo

Read the artist’s submitted proposal in this PDF file. Follow the further development of the proposal below. Click here for an overview of all proposals.

On hold

It breaks our hearts to let you know that due to unforeseen circumstances imagine art after will be on hold until further notice.

summer break

We will have a summer break until September.

Feel free to update your proposals if you wish. Have a good August!

bit slow with getting back

it’s stupidly busy at this end – amongst many things, I’m still in the process of completing 5 films for my forthcoming show at Camden Arts Centre which opens on Thur 9 June. be great to see you at the private view!!!


The photographs views is virtually not different from the video. But the video have much flexibility in points of view.

point of view

the current description of the video aspect of ‘Pride’ seems to suggest that each of the 4 segments will be more or less a series of still images put together. apart from the ‘before and after haircut’ moment against the backdrop of a hair-salon, what else is important to you? is the point of view in the video in any way different from the photographs?

The photographic aspect of the project is rather independent from the video although they are meant to address the same theme (Pride).
My intention is to make Pride available in both video and photographic format especially that the production will be done with a DSLR Camera inbuilt with an HD video capture.
I am intending to have about 4 segments for each scene to be captured at the barber shops/ salons.
i. An establishment shot of the barbers shop/ salon with the barber in it
ii. Close-shot of barber cutting the clients hair
iii. Close-shot of client in portrait format before the haircut. This will be done in context with the space the hair being cut.
iv. Close-shot of client in portrait format before the haircut. This will be done in context with the space the hair being cut.
I must say all this idea are tentative. For my projects I like my approach to be influenced largely but the prevailing environment I am with the core of the subject in focus.
Thanks for your comments and I welcome more.

why use both video and photography?

how would the photographic aspect contribute to what’s already been captured on video? how many video segments do you intend to produce?

Production envisage

Field Work
During the production process I intend to visit two regions of each of the West Africa countries with focus on their major cities. The idea of working in cities is to use the project as a way of investigating the use of urban spaces in Africa cities through the barber hair salons and its environs because rarely are African urban spaces being reflected globally.
In each of these regions I intend to spend a minimum of two working days taking video and still pictures that include:
Portraits of before and after the barber customers’ hair are being cut. This could be helpful in investigating the evolving indentify they realise through the hart cut process.
I am interested to find out the various status or identity people that could be attached to as a result of their hair cut style. For instance, through the hairstyle some people could be perceived belong to certain culture and class in the country.
I want to also know why people also choose to have certain haircut on them. What does it mean to them? Does it bring a sense of pride or confidence to them? I hope the above practice will add layer in project of documenting various hair cut styles in West Africa.
Also, I intend to make environmental portraits of the hair barbers. That is , putting their working space in context. I am also keen to know why they choice to be a barber, what does the job mean to them and what sense of fulfilment they derive from the job.
Importantly, I intend to keep my mind open to other idea that could come on during this fieldwork while maintaining the idea of the Pride project.
During the production process I intend to meet and share ideas with other artists working in countries I will be visiting. This could be helpful in getting better understanding in the their environments and society that I will be working. I am thinking of making this artist contact through the various art institutions or association in the countries.

Off Field works
On my return my tentative idea is come up with a multi media (video + still) series and a Still photo series.
The multimedia will include and good mix of all the sound, imagery and moments I have been able to capture during the trips. The piece should be suitable for video show, online and TV broadcasting.
For this still pictures I intend to have a fine mix of duo Portraits of each barber customers and the environment portrait of the barbers and the space they works from. This could be suitable for Print Show, Book publication and other editorials.
That is that for now. I will be glad you could give me your comments and advice.
Best regards.



Hi Andrew, can you tell us a bit more about how you envisage the production process?

Pride proposal

Brief Outline
Pride is a series on men’s hair barbers and the spaces in which they operate across west Africa. Though hair barbing is considered as a low class profession, the work is of great social importance as the styles and looks they create are a key part of people’s identity, regardless of their class or social status.
I am keen to find out about the pride, which barbers derive in the job as well as documenting the different styles and how they use the spaces they operate from across major cities in west Africa.

Emotion Behind the Project
Even though barbing is often considered a low class profession it is an important tool to help people create and project their identities and it gives the people working in the profession a great sense of confidence and pride. A barber I met in Lagos told me that even though he is only considered a common barber that his work had given him access to important people and he even counted an ex-president amongst his clients. This brought him a great sense of pride and I am interested in exploring the role barbing plays in social mobility. Also, the shop spaces were places where people not only meet to look good but they also serve as a melting point for people from all walks of life. I plan to travel across various major west African cities by road (from Nigeria to Mauritania), documenting the popular hairstyles in different cities as well as the stories of individual barbers and the appropriation of their space for hair cutting.

Principal medium: Photography
Location(s) of production: Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra-Lone , Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania.
Production budget indication: between £3,500-£10,000