'ONOMOllywood' Photo Exhibition Reimagines Classic Movie Moments with Black Models


What would classic Hollywood look like if it wasn't so, well, white? That's one question photographers Omar Victor Diop and Antoine Tempe asked themselves when planning their new exhibition, ONOMollywood . The results are some truly stunning photographs, so why are they causing backlash?

Diop and Tempe, both Dakar-based photographers, were approached by hotel group Onomo International with the idea to create a photo series with the hotels as the backdrop. They drew inspiration from American and French films that had inspired them as artists, including such masterpieces as Breakfast at Tiffany's, American Beauty, and, The Matrix.

Although the iconic movie moments are easily recognizable, the photographers updated them to cross cultural boundaries. They feature black models and modernized backdrops that pay homage to the original time periods of the films. A few changes have been made — the iconic rose petal scene from American Beauty features green leaves, Holly Golightly's dress is white — making these moments feel fresh and new.

But it seems the world isn't quite ready for a black Holly Golightly, even in 2014. The photographers were accused by some of enacting a sort of revenge on Hollywood, rather than honoring these great achievements in film through the lens of their own culture. It's a shame that such a brilliant concept could be met with derision.

The photographs marry cultures in a way that is respectful and touching. ONOMOllywood is an elegant marrying of cultures, a beautiful portrait that pays respect to the past and future of Hollywood. It should be celebrated, not shamed.

The exhibition has been shown from December 2013 in Dakar, Abidjan, and Libreville. It is comprised of 20 images, 10 by Diop and 10 by Tempe, with "a cast featuring a representative sample of the cultural scenes in Dakar and Abidjan, where these images were shot." Check out some more images from the exhibition below.