Andrew Dosunmu wears many hats: narrative and documentary filmmaker, costume designer, music video director (credits include Common, Wyclef Jean, and Travis Scott), and commercial imagemaker sought out by Nike, The Face, Vogue Hommes, On, and adidas.
Based between Nigeria and the US, Dosunmu has nurtured each of these disciplines – and others – over the course of 20 years, yet he hasn’t produced a book on his own work, until now. Simply named Monograph, it brings together compelling full-bleed portraits of people he has encountered around the world, which are interspersed with a handful of collages and rows of wide-angle stills from his films, Restless City and Mother of George, among others.
The book opens with a fascinating conversation between Dosunmu and fellow polymath Arthur Jafa, whose 30-year friendship began when the latter hired Dosunmu, who initially trained as a designer at Yves Saint Laurent, to do the costume design on his short, Slowly This. During the conversation, he recounts his experiences with homelessness, which he was seemingly pulled out of after crossing paths with designer Lamine Kouyaté, after the two took note of one another because of how they were dressed.
The same instinct that led to his early career in fashion and costuming is echoed throughout the book, which illustrates his profound curiosity in, and respect for, how people present themselves, whether in traditional dress or street style, often borrowing the language of each and applying it to the other. With his striking framing, his images may appear carefully composed, but there remains a rawness and naturalism to them that also applies to his own fluid practice.
“Am I a filmmaker? Am I a creative director? Visual artist? Am I a photographer? Why do I need boundaries? Because they’re all the same thing,” he says during the conversation with Jafa in the book.
“For me, it’s always been. For us, it’s always been. We take pictures, we pick pictures, we light pictures, we make films, and it’s always been about that. As visual artists, there are no boundaries, really.”
Monograph by Andrew Dosunmu is published by Damiani; damianibooks.com