Benin’s Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou follows this unique tradition as the successor of his father’s photographic practice. He has projected such legacy into the future by founding the first photography school in Porto-Novo.
His Demoiselles de Porto Novo are among a number of bodies of work encompassed in Citizens of Porto Novo series, which focuses on social and cultural facets of the city such as religious ritual, sport, and even smuggling. In the Demoiselles, the elegance of the sitters is punctuated with historical references: the female models dressed in traditional fashion nonchalantly exhibit their nude torsos in the colonial setting of the artist’s family home. We suspect them watching us behind the wooden ceremonial masks that elicit Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon.