Location: United Kingdom

A Naija Guy living (and loving) in the UK.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Vanity Fair - the Africa Edition

Vanity Fair has chosen for its July 07 magazine to feature 20 celebrities on 20 different covers having a 'conversation' about Africa. I must admit that Vanity Fair is hardly my regular reading material but a combination of Africa and Annie Leibovitz made it catch my attention in Smithies today.

Annie Leibovitz first caught my attention many years ago when she took the portrait of Whoopi in a bathtub filled with milk below (I used to love Whoopi Goldberg!). Since she joined the staff team of Vanity Fair, Leibovitz has made many memorable covers, including two of Demi Moore naked and her various portraits of celebrity holders of American Express cards. Leibovitz also took a famous portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the morning of the day on which he was shot and murdered.

Back to Africa and the VF magazine features world leaders and politicians including George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Barack Obama and Queen Rania of Jordan, musicians Jay-Z and Bono, entertainers and artists Chris Rock, Madonna, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle and Maya Angelou, philanthropists Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates and the boxing icon that is Muhammad Ali.

All the celebrities are featured due to their 'passion' about Africa(the inclusion of George Bush did actually leave a slightly bitter taste in my mouth). The premise of the photographs is a visual chain-letter, a photographic discussion between these people about Africa.

Each person is featured on one cover but appears in a supporting role on the next in the series, the message being passed from one personality to the next. Obama listens to Cheadle, Ali to Obama, Queen Rania to Ali and so on.

"It's a visual chain letter," says Leibovitz, "spreading the message from person to person to person." Of the participants each has a personal connection with the continent, Iman: the supermodel who fled Somalia with her family 37 years ago, Senator Barack Obama whose grandfather and father are buried in Africa, Djimon Hounsou an actor who makes an annual return to a tiny village in Benin to see his family, Madonna the music superstar who adopted a child from Malawi, Ali who visited Ghana when no American sports figure had gone there before (I wonder what Dubya's personal link is).

Leibovitz put together the subjects in what was, she says, "a little like having a dinner party and trying to seat people next to certain people." She adds, "These are incredible people of our time, involved in this effort to make Africa better, to get Africa self-sufficient, and to try to get rid of aids on the continent."

What I found intriguing about the pictures was that the majority of the subjects seen together never actually posed together. For example Bush was photographed April 13 in Washington while Tutu was photographed April 28 in Kobe, Japan. But their photgraph features them in dialogue. The power of Photoshop aye!

Anyway, long may the conversation about Africa continue...


Blogger Uzo said...

I have seen these covers on awebsite and i love the presmis..The Alicia Keys and Iman cover is stunning. Breathtakingly stunning

4:59 pm, June 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trinib said
I've read on other blogs where people critize the celebrities 'jumping on the bandwagon'. But I'm thinking if they didn't would the average person in 'developed' countries care what goes on in the third world countries. Loved the idea of the pictures and the issues. Not sure about the Bush inclusion....would like to find out more about that choice.

1:22 pm, July 12, 2007  
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