The Launch of MFON: A Contemporary Record of Photographers of the African Diaspora
Photo-based artists, academics and longtime friends Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and Adama Delphine Fawundu noticed a gap in the photo world: there were no publications dedicated to highlighting and contextualizing the work of female photographers of African descent.
Both influenced and inspired in their early careers by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe’s Viewfinders: Black Women Photographers, a survey of black female photographers from the late 19th century to the mid-1980s, the pair set out to make an artistic and contemporary response.
This was a decade ago. At the time they found it difficult to get a book deal, so they turned to their own artistic projects instead, independently traveling and making work inspired by the African diaspora.
But the call for more diverse voices within photography grew louder and, two years ago, they endeavored to make their original idea a reality. The pair founded MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, a biannual journal and organization dedicated to showcasing and creating an intellectual dialogue around work made by black women.
Titled after visionary Nigerian-American photographer Mmekutmfon “Mfon” Essien, who died from breast cancer the day before her series, “The Amazon’s New Clothes,” premiered at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2001, MFON has launched as a book featuring the work of 100 female photographers with essays, interviews and critical writings.
“[MFON] serves as a historical document within the history of photography,” Fawundu says. “It is also serves as a global contemporary voice of women of different generations and genres.”
To learn more about the progress of MFON and the plans to grow its reach in the future, read the full article for free in the Spring 2018 digital edition.
—By Lindsay Comstock