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RIP PAPA GEORGE

Exile demands contemplation because it is unavoidably real for those who experience it. More than a word, exile is also a condition. It is a place, a knowledge, a narrative, but most importantly, it is a psychic space that is obvious to those who inhabit it, those who must engage and wrestle with it because only by so doing can they come to terms with it – Olu Oguibe, Exile and the Creative Imagination.

We’re deeply sad to learn of the passing of our mentor, the great photographer, thinker and all-round party animal George Hallett. From his work as street photographer in district 6 to his documentation of the creative imagination of African exiles in Europe, Bra George made the most beautiful and sometime only portraits we have of writers, artists and musicians such as Bessie Head, James Matthews, Dambudzo Marechera, Dumile Feni, The Blue Notes and hundreds more.

Through his work as graphic designer for Heinemann’s seminal African Writers Series, or for the jazz label Ogun, he conceptualised an intricate system for these images to circulate beyond the art world. Most readers of African literature, or jazz listeners, held one of George Hallet’s imagined scenes in their hands at some point.

[See Creating Theatre: A George Hallett Photo Essay]

In 2015, in collaboration with the curator Christine Eyene and the Otolith Group we installed a library in the Showroom in London to give form to Bra George’s body of text-sound-image. And stories. It remains an inspirational method for the circulation of beauty in the black world.

Bra George, RIP.

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