Ima Mfon explores issues of social and cultural identity. ‘Nigerian Identity’ is a series of photographic portraits of my fellow Nigerians in which all people are presented in a uniform manner, even enhanced so that their skin tones are virtually identical. The idea behind this discipline stems from my experiences living in different cultural settings which have viewed identity differently ‘Black’ is often used as a generic descriptive label. ‘The black guy’, “The new black sitcom”. “I see myself as being more than just black. However, that is usually not how I am perceived outside of Nigeria. Regardless of my unique heritage, I am often generalized as being just black. The homogenisation of the skin tones in my project plays on this tendency to reduce people to just a colour. But it also serves to unify the people and further an artistic expression of their portraits. In these images, the skin tones are rich, deep and beautiful to celebrate our beautiful skin, for which we are often oppressed and marginalised.”
Prior to this he also lived in New York City, where he recently earned his Master’s in Photography at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). When he is not working he enjoys watching Wes Anderson movies, listening to music, and occasionally playing video games.
Mfon was a recipient of the 2015 Lensculture Emerging Talents Award. His latest project, Nigerian Identity – a very personal exploration of his own identity – was featured on CNN and also exhibited at several art fairs and festivals including the 2015 Lagos Photo Festival, and Miami Pulse art fair.
In July 2017, three of his ‘Nigerian Identity’ portraits were also acquired into the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH).
In addition, he has also been exhibited at the Klompching gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Rick Wester Fine Art gallery (Chelsea, NY), the San Francisco Camerawork gallery, and the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography. Mfon currently resides in Evanston where he is pursuing his MBA at Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management.