press release

Photography has maintained a vital presence in African culture for over a century. But the recognition of African photographers and their unique visual language has come about only recently. When Western photography engages Africa, it seems often to evoke pathological images of disease, corruption, and poverty. The global media almost never depict contemporary Africans in ordinary situations; images of crisis frequently eclipse other representations. In response to this partial view that overlooks the complexities of daily life across a vast continent of over fifty nations, Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography forces a recognition of the contradictory and varied forms of photographic practice that are now arising across Africa.

Snap Judgments highlights a shift away from the commercial studio portraiture that predominated in Africa in previous decades, revealing a new and surprising emphasis on conceptual art, documentary, and fashion photography. Most of the works shown here were produced since 2000. Many were made within the past year, and several were commissioned specifically for the exhibition.

Snap Judgments brings together some of the most forceful propositions by contemporary artists and photographers on how to look at Africa. In so doing, it seeks to demonstrate how artists can use photography as a tool to trace the arc of different social realities. A number of distinct themes run through the exhibition: local responses to the international media and the touristic gaze; framing the African body; identity and postcolonial memory; urban sites; and the machines and institutions of modernity. By posing pertinent questions about the role of images in African public narratives, the exhibition opens the way to unexpected and penetrating insights into a rapidly changing social dynamic.

Okwui Enwezor, ICP Adjunct Curator

Snap Judgments was curated by Okwui Enwezor, who also authored the accompanying catalogue. Okwui Enwezor is Dean of Academic Affairs at San Francisco Art Institute. He is Visiting Professor in Art History at University of Pittsburgh, and has held teaching positions at Columbia University, New York; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and University of Umeå, Sweden. Enwezor was Artistic Director of documenta 11, Kassel, Germany (1998–2002), and the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1996–97). He is presently Adjunct Curator at the International Center of Photography and Artistic Director of the 2nd Biennial of Contemporary Art, Seville (BIACS). Enwezor is the recipient of the College Art Association’s Frank Jewett Mather Award for Criticism and the Peter Norton Curatorial Award. He lives in New York and San Francisco.

This exhibition was organized by the International Center of Photography with lead support from Altria Group, Inc., and the ICP Exhibitions Committee. Additional funding was generously provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Christian K. Keesee, Roberta and Steven Denning, Eni S.p.A., Marjorie G. and Jeffrey A. Rosen, Artur Walther, Association Française d'Action Artistique, Robert Scully and Nancy Peretsman, Meryl and Robert Meltzer, Andrew and Marina Lewin, Jane K. Lombard, Prince Claus Fund, the Government of Flanders, Mondriaan Foundation, Pamela and Arthur Sanders, and the British Council. Support for the exhibition catalogue has been provided by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.


only in german

Snap Judgments - New Positions in Contemporary African Photography
Kurator: Okwui Enwezor

mit Doa Aly, Lara Baladi, Oladele Ajiboye Bamgboye, Yto Barrada, Luís Basto, Zohra Bensemra, Zarina Bhimji, Mohamed Camara, Ali Chraïbi, Omar D. (Daoud), Depth of Field , Allan deSouza, Andrew Dosunmu, Hala El Koussy, Theo Eshetu, Mamadou Gomis, Kay Hassan, Ramuald Hazoume, Moshekwa Langa, Maha Maamoun, Boubacar Toure Mandemory, Zwelethu Mthethwa, James Muruiki, Lamia Naji, Otobong Nkanga, Jo Ractliffe, Tracey Rose, Fatou Kande Senghor, Randa Shaath, Mikhael Subotzky, Sada Tangara, Guy Tillim, Michael Tsegaye, Hentie van der Merwe, Nontsikelelo Lolo Veleko