More than any other continent, Africa’s development has been dictated and perverted by foreign greed, and likewise its image has been defined by the foreign lens. That is the cage of stereotype which the best African photographers have fought to escape for the past 60 years: often rejecting the Western obsession with traditional ceremony and costume, rejecting similarly the associations with violence, poverty and mayhem, sometimes rejecting even the notion of Africa itself—insisting instead on the vast array of identities that have germinated in the continent’s soil.
Photography invites and facilitates the process of appropriation and re-appropriation of identity, in a continent where post-colonial or post-apartheid identity are major themes for artists. It naturally engages with social and political issues that compel many artists; telling stories that need to be told.
I’m such a sucker for self-representation. Definitely, definitely click through and read about everything on the auction site.
And I don’t have much more to add to this except to quote from something I wrote earlier this year.
As much as the “Africa is a country” thing is an annoying Western ignorant viewpoint, I found that it worked in this case. The commonality of having to deal with resolving cultures after Europe messed with things in the continent makes sense to me. The presentation wasn’t about how all Africa was the same but rather how different African artists dealt with the cultural whiplash of being unleashed from colonialism and set loose in the global economy.
This auction/collection totally fits in with this idea of reappropriating culture in the midst of a post-colonial world. It’s why I fall into the creation side of the “what democratized photography” debate.