Statement tees aren’t items of clothing we usually cover, but there’s something about the urgency of French photographer Nicolas Premier and his Africa is the Future project that’s just too deafening to tune out. Premier visited Africa for the first time back in 2001. Having been raised by a French mother and a Congolese father, the Parisian artist was shocked to find the captial of his father’s homeland, Brazzaville, in a crumpled post-civil war heap. The bullet-ridden walls, he explains, were even more difficult to look at given the fact that France had played a role in the conflict.
On his return to Paris Premier took part in a group art exhibit and made up a one-off shirt inspired by his trip for the show—what he calls his cri du coeur. It wasn’t long before his friends were asking for their own shirts, and he was forced to pull in a business partner to help keep up with the demand. Premier has documented the progress of AITF in images on the website for the past year and a half, but there are also some thought-provoking photo essays like Mathilde Chapuis’ “Nevada Paradox” up there too. For Premier, the T-shirts are about sparking healthy debate around the continent—it’s why he refuses to put the slogan on fliers or stickers or anything that can’t be worn on the body. The T-shirts, he insists, are walking conversation pieces after all.