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Hakeem Adewumi - The Art of Anti-Portraiture

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Hakeem Adewumi, we were alone, we were not afraid, Archival ink on Hahnemühle photo rag, 2019.

Hakeem Adewumi is a photographer whose work undermines the traditional aesthetics of portraiture. Recognizing the power dynamics inherent in being photographed, this Dallas-based Nigerian artist allows his subjects to turn away from the gaze of the viewer. In this feature for Chapman University, Jessica Bocinski describes the “anti-portraiture” practices of Adewumi and what his art has to show us -- and refuses to show us -- about identity, race, and sexuality.

“Unlike typical photographs that present the subject as something to be consumed by the viewer, Adewumi’s work dignifies subjects with privacy. In this way, his works reverse the usual power structure wherein the viewer consumes and the subject is passively displayed. The subjects in Adewumi’s work have a power over us, withholding as much information as they give.” - Jessica Bocinski
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