Damian Jöel is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice fuses fashion storytelling with activism and archival intervention. An immigrant himself, Jöel was drawn to the Gullah/Geechee’s protection of their West African heritage amidst Western assimilation. Jöel’s fashion story, Songs of the Gullah, shares their history through film and genderless garments made of deadstock, upcycled fabric – referencing the nation’s own sustainable methods of living off the land.
Damian Jöel’s garments are a triptych of the Gullah/Geechee’s past, present, and future. Taking inspiration from archival images, Jöel consulted with Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee nation to create a fashion story that blends spirituality, nature, labour and heritage.
James F Gibson, Cumberland Landing, Va. Group of “contrabands” at Foller’s house, 1862, stereograph. Photo credit: Civil war photographs, 1861-1865, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Henry P Moore, Slaves of the rebel Genl. Thomas F. Drayton, Hilton Head, South Carolina, 1862, photograph. Photo credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Alfred Bendiner Memorial Collection.