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Camo - Thandiwe Muriu

Camo - Thandiwe Muriu

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Camo, by photographer Thandiwe Muriu, is the first publication to chronicle the work of this international artist, celebrating the vibrant portraits she creates that combine cultural textiles and beauty ideologies. Muriu takes us on a colorful, reflective journey through her world as a woman living in modern Kenya as she reinterprets contemporary African portraiture. 

As the sole woman operating in the male-dominated advertising photography industry in Kenya, Thandiwe Muriu has repeatedly confronted questions around the role of women in society, the place of tradition, and her own self-perception. These experiences inspired her personal project of cultural reflection: the Camo series. Camo was the catalyst for her to push new boundaries in her photography, leading her into a deeply personal artistic journey.

The compelling, fully saturated photographs in this collection confront issues surrounding identity while seeking to redefine female empowerment through Muriu’s choice of materials. These constructed images are not digital manipulations but physical sets that incorporate African Ankara wax textiles as backdrops and custom-tailored clothing and headdresses. At the forefront of her practice is using textiles to make her subjects disappear and serve as a canvas for reflection on the question of identity and its evolution over time. Muriu also consistently reimagines common objects associated with the daily lives of Kenyans into bold accessories donned by her subjects. These objects range from hairpins to the mosquito-repellent coils she grew up using. In Kenya, an object can have multiple uses beyond its original purpose; as Muriu explains, “When you have little, you transform and reuse it.”

Throughout the book, each image is paired with an inspirational African proverb in both English and Swahili, expressing the collected wisdom of generations that continue to inspire. Proverbs such as "With a little seed of imagination, you can grow a field of hope" convey the uplifting spirit of Muriu's work that empowers women, preserves tradition, and celebrates African beauty and culture. 

A visually stunning art book and cultural touchstone, Camo is a collectible treasure as the first book to showcase the work of a rising star in the worlds of photography and art.

Hardcover, 224 pages

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