'I first came across Abdel’s work when I went to his university as a judge to see their final show. I knew he was very talented from the first work I saw', Ibrahim (better known as Ib) Kamara says of his latest collaboration, with the Franco-Sudanese designer Abdel El Tayeb. Winner of the Debut Talent prize at the Fashion Trust Arabia awards last year, El Tayeb is certainly not short of talent, with one of their knitted bead dresses worn by Adriana Lima for the cover of Vogue Arabia's December 2021 issue. Kamara, the renegade stylist who has worked with Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton, Riccardo Tisci for Burberry, Erdem and Comme des Garçons since graduating from Central Saint Martins was quick to include the designer in an editorial for Dazed, where he has been editor-in-chief since January. Now, the pair have collaborated on a fashion film commissioned by SHOWstudio, where Kamara took on the reigns as director for the first time.
Hetty Mahlich: Would you count fashion film / film as creative influences?
Ib Kamara: I think any form of creating can be influential. Fashion films, or films, are a visual expression, able to capture your audiences in a good or bad way that is also influential.
HM: Have you discovered anything new about your process from working on video projects?
IK: It was super fun directing. I knew I wanted to make a film before I left that studio. Yes, it's really influenced my work from then on and my thinking processing in terms of any creative project I get into.
HM: Is fashion film a medium you'd like to continue exploring in the future? Why?
IK: Yes and feature films too. A visual messages goes a longer way than words sometimes, so I think there is space for fashion films and films in general.
HM: Is using different mediums for storytelling important to you?
IK: Yes for sure. I am intrigued in finding new mediums to work with and work on.
The Queen is Coming is the first film revealed as part of SHOWstudio, Nick Knight and Emma Dabiri's upcoming project Bodies of Knowledge. Stay tuned for more information coming soon.
In the meantime, Kamara and El Tayeb's film is showing as part of the Future Shock exhibition at 180 Studios in London, curated in a way to purposefully challenge our senses, the very definition of space and how we perceive it. Exhibiting a combination of interactives, films, installations and video projections, Future Shock does exactly what it says on the tin: it shocks viewers while also carving out an imagined future which is fast becoming our reality, one made up of virtual worlds and surrealist digital art. Transforming subterranean space of 180 Studios through mesmerising and immersive digital technology, AI, 3D digital mapping, laser work and holographic projections all come together to immerse the viewer into a space far away from the natural world.
Although each artwork exhibited varies in colour, tone and overall style, a futuristic voice underpins the entire spectacle's narrative - feeding into the, at times, unnerving characteristics synonymous with the hesitancy of embracing the digital age.
The Queen is Coming is one of many fashion films and video projections included in Future Shock and although it was visibly less about a 'digital age' than other works, there is a sense of transfixing unease created by the film's characters via their expressions, reactions and quickened breathing patterns, bellowing through the speakers as Kamara's film transfixed its viewer, gripping them in a state of shock.
Also included in Future Shock is space, sound and light artist NONOTAK, who, through their unique light installation, manipulates the viewer's space into an alienesque distortion, void of sound yet filled with moving patterns created by harsh white light. Other visual artists like Weirdcore, Ben Kelly, Ibby Njoya and Natalia Podgorska also feature in the exhibition, all using their designated spaces to create spellbinding installations. A not-too-distant future has been reimagined, with a myriad of new possibilities created through sensory experiences that challenge our preconceptions of what it means to make truly immersive art.
Future Shock runs 28 April - 28 August 2022. Buy tickets here.