Waxprint Prison is part of the larger textile series Who Is Wearing My T-Shirt, where artist Zohra Opoku seeks to bring awareness to traditions and controversies in the African fashion market and textile industry.
In African tradition, clothing items are designed to carry meaning, passed on in festivals and tribal ceremonies in different regions. Embedded with wisdom, philosophies, histories and classifications, Opoku notes how “these textiles are more than a cultural heritage, as they function like a language in themselves.” In Waxprint Prison, the artist deals with African wax fabrics, which, despite being originally a European import to the continent are perceived otherwise. “Waxprint fabrics produced in Africa, unfortunately, make only a small part of the African textile market,” Opoku states. “Quality and prices will not be in proportion to the mostly Dutch and English imports of the same commodity.” In this project, the artist has proud Africans dressed almost exclusively in “imported goods from their former ‘colonial masters’.”