Africa’s photographic history goes back to the early days of the medium when it was first used by European explorers and government officials. The 21st century has ushered in a new generation of visual storytellers born on the continent who are using the camera outside of the realms of historical portraiture and documentary.
Aperture‘s “Platform Africa” issue has curated images from a unique selection of African photographers like self-portrait veteran Samuel Fosso, contemporary powerhouses Namsa Leuba (whose image graces the cover) and Aida Muluneh to the fresh visionaries who are highlighted below. Managing editor of Aperture Magazine Brendan Watternberg had this to say about how the photographers were chosen for this issue:
Throughout the year of research for Aperture’s “Platform Africa” issue, we traveled to Dakar, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, and we worked with three guest editors who are all curators, teachers, and cultural entrepreneurs.
We wanted to highlight the diverse visions of artists whose careers are connected to the leading platforms for photography and contemporary art in Africa, such as the Market Photo Workshop in South Africa, the Bamako Biennale in Mali, Addis FotoFest in Ethiopia, LagosFoto in Nigeria, DAK’ART in Senegal, Kulte Gallery & Editions in Morocco, Collective 220 in Algeria, and many others.
These platforms have been integral to creating community around photography in various cities across the continent. And by focusing on these sites of creativity and connection, we learned about some of the most talented artists living and working in Africa today.
Emerging African Photography
Countering the war-torn and famine-stricken perceptions of Africa’s past, this new crop of photographers are picturing the motherland in refreshingly mundane ways while also engaging us in the current politics of their respective countries. There’s an intimacy and considered approach unique to the images of the photographers featured below and yet we see a nod to photographic influences ranging from Gordon Parks to filmmaker Spike Lee as cited by Mimi Cherono Ng’ok in this Africa Is A Country interview. Hopefully these photographers go on to have long careers taking assignments and showing their work beyond Africa.
Abdo Shanan (Algeria)
Eric Gyamfi (Ghana)
Mimi Cherono Ng’ok (Kenya)
Sabelo Mlangeni (South Africa)