The Hairstyle series, one of the most celebrated works by the prominent Nigerian photographer J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, is a collection of over 1,000 black and white portraits of coifures recorded in Nigeria from 1968 until the artist’s death in 2013. The various hairstyles – some experimental and modern while others refecting more traditional elements – showcase a wide range of geometries, structures, graphics, and textures that reveal Nigeria’s changing culture and traditions, including diferent social occasions and statuses, family genealogies, and community visual symbols.
‘Ojeikere documented these forms and shapes as cultural artefacts, creating a visual archive that narrates the social and cultural changes in Africa in the postcolonial era. Hairstyles have a very powerful cultural and historical signifcance, serving as repositories of tradition, style, and knowledge. In one example, route maps for escaping slaves in the Americas were secretly recorded in hairdos, with some of these maps surviving as hairstyles reminiscent of that history of liberation. Each portrait in the series is titled by name of the hairstyle and the year of recording