Iké Udé: The Satrorial Anarchist
Text | Francesco Spampinato
Photography | Bjorn Iooss
Born in Nigeria but a New Yorker today, for the past five years the photographer and trendsetter Iké Udé has been working on a series of self-portraits called Sartorial Anarchy, which were recently shown at the Leila Heller Gallery of New York. In them, he wears an assortment of clothes and costumes and poses against surreal backgrounds. "I use the clothes to explore cultural and temporal differences and try to blend them", he says. "The idea of ‘Sartorial Anarchy’ comes from a desire to break rules and limits, but with elegance and intelligence."
Last spring a few of his works were included in the exhibit titled Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion at the museum of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, where the curators explored the recent return of the dandy as someone who “kicks the limits of taste”. "I’d call today’s dandyism the sartorial expression of a stoic disposition", remarked Iké. "Ironically, however, different stoic dandies weren’t interested in sartorial issues, such as Mandela, Gandhi, Jesus Christ, and Martin Luther King."What’s most striking about his photos is the formal quality of the clothes and accessories that are worthy of a museum. To find them, the artist has a vast network of dealers in vintage articles and reproductions. "I’m willing to sacrifice everything to buy a piece that interests me". Among the most valuable items in his collection are a Greek fustanella from 1868, the reproduction of a wig from 1279 B.C. worn by the pharaoh Ramses II, and embroidered Yoruba tunics from Nigeria. When he arrived in New York in 1980, Iké started experimenting with different costumes and extreme outfits in clubs like Area.
To read complete story and view all images, pick up a copy of the February 2014 issue of L’UomoVogue on newsstands now or read online here.