Malik Afegbua, an artist who parades black and older models that fashion has forgotten

Black people, especially older people, suffer from underrepresentation in the fashion world and in the media. Based on this observation, artist Malik Afaqbua created a series Fashion show for seniors (“Parade for the elderly”). At first glance, you might think that these are portraits highlighting the elderly in the middle of the parade. I’m sorry to tell you, but it isn’t.

These are not real photos. And it’s not a real parade. As amazing as it is, these images were created using artificial intelligence from portraits of the Ngochola people who lived on the African continent 250,000 years ago. In other words, these seniors do not exist in this guise and never have. Nevertheless, the message is clear: the desire to make them visible. The Nigerian photographer and filmmaker wants to make an impact with his art. Meet Malik Afegbua from Lagos.

Konbini arts | Hello Malik! You can tell us about your series Fashion show for seniors ?

Malik Afegbua | In my work, I have always wanted to make underrepresented people visible. In this case, it’s the elderly. We don’t pay enough attention to them. We love them, we care about them, but we don’t really care, especially when they are over sixty years old. I wanted to present them in a different light, in a context you’ve never seen before, like a high fashion show. My goal was to show them that they are full of confidence.

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And you chose a fashion show…

It’s never been done before. I have never seen photos of older people in luxurious settings. During Fashion Week, we only see a certain social group, we never see older people. So I thought to myself: “Why not teleport them to a fashion show?”

They would do well to see this and say to themselves: “We’re here and we still have spirit.” I think it’s very important that they are represented everywhere so that they don’t feel left out of society. We should not exclude them just because they are old. And I love the world of fashion, why not!

Your work has been widely shared and commented on in social networks. An interesting tweet read: “Black people are underrepresented in the world of fashion, why create fake characters with artificial intelligence when you can take real people?”

I would love to do that, but the difference is that I tell stories. My job is not necessarily to enforce them. On the other hand, if someone likes my idea and wants to make it happen, we can collaborate! One particular message I want to convey is that there are various possibilities that add to reality. Using artificial intelligence, I can transform reality in a positive way and inspire other people.

My goal after this project is for people to say to themselves: “Let’s have a senior show or even a whole Fashion Week.” Indeed, it has already happened. I think I can tickle some people’s imagination with my art. I want people to know themselves. I live in my head a lot, often imagining alternate universes and situations. I imagine the world is so chaotic because things could be so much more positive.

Why do you use technology, specifically artificial intelligence, to create art?

Many people do not accept this and think that technology is stealing the work of artists. I, I don’t think so. I am a visual artist and have the ability to create images myself using my pencil and iPad. AI, on the other hand, is an easier way to reach my imagination. And that fascinates me. I’m always looking to see how AI can improve my art and stories. The combination of my imagination and AI is phenomenal. I feel that the world is going in this direction. The sooner you take it, the better.

What software are you using?

I use three: Stable Diffusion (same as Lens), Disco Diffusion, and Midjourney. I also add Photoshop. Midjourney is enough when you are a novice because it creates an image from a simple description. You can make various changes by changing these images until you get what you want. But again, it’s never perfect, and AI will never be able to replicate exactly what’s in our heads.

What are your future projects?

I’ve got documentaries and series coming out on Netflix next year, and a lot of other projects with my studio Slick City Media, so we’ve got a lot going on as well. storytellers In Nigeria. The one that will come out soon is called Made by design and I am making a biopic on Mama Nike, a legend in the Nigerian art industry.

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