How Africans Want to Be Seen / "Re-imagining the traditional ways Africa is represented through photography"

{by Andrew Dosunmu (Nigeria), "Studio Portraits" series}

As someone who has lived in South Africa and just returned from a recent visit, I am constantly concerned with how I represent Africans in my photography. As such, I was excited to see CarlaGirl Photography's snippet about an exhibit at the Li-Space in Beijing’s Caochangdi district aiming to reimagine the traditional ways Africa is represented through photography.

Our South African folks over at Chimurenga, have also developed a list of resources about the China-Africa relationship in preparation for their next publishing project, The Chimurenga Chronicle -- a once-off, one-day-only edition of a speculative, future-forward newspaper that travels back in time to May 18-24, 2008 to re-imagine the present.

How Africans Want to Be Seen
(SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal)

A new exhibit at Li-Space in Beijing’s Caochangdi district aims to refashion the traditional visual impression of Africa – that of famine, war and poverty – through images that show a continent of culture, hope, imagination and dreams.

“Africa: See You, See Me!” features the work of 36 African and non-African photographers, including Angele Etoundi Essamba from Cameroon, Moroccan Majida Khattari and Italian Marco Ambrosi.

China, which has a growing business presence in Africa, seemed an important place to display the photographs, said Awam Amkpa, the exhibition’s curator, who described the images in the show as an illustration of “how Africans want to be seen rather than how they are forced to be seen.”

The Chinese “don’t know the diversity, the robustness of African culture,” Mr. Amkpa, a Nigerian, said. “I think it is an opportunity for us to show this Africa that is a very modern and diverse continent…. We are not always at war. We are not always starving.”


The Chinese “are going to be the new colonialists. After the Europeans, they are going to be the next. It is happening,” said the Cameroon photographer Ms. Essamba, referring to what she says is the “staggering” number of Chinese moving to Africa. “Africa is like the new Eldorado for them. I am happy that they come and that they plan to build things, but it would be great if they could involve our own people. This is the idea, actually.” (source)

{by Delphine Diallo (Senegal) 2010, "Back to Africa" series}

{by P. Maimouna Guerressi (Senegal) 2008, "The Giants, a.p." series}

{by Hassan Hajjaj (Morocco) 2000, "L.V. Posse" series}

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