Contemporary photography in Africa appears to be thriving, bolstered by the emergence of new arts initiatives, prizes and platforms showcasing the continent’s best image-makers.
Recent years have also seen the opening of new exhibition spaces, such as the Saint-Louis Photography Museum in Senegal and Morocco’s Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), which marked its international launch with a group exhibition featuring the work of many African photographers.
In the commercial sphere, established events like the Bamako Encounters Photography Bienniale in Mali (which is now preparing for its 12th edition) have been joined by the likes of Art x Lagos, launched in 2016. International platforms like the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair — which, this year, is holding fairs in London and New York, in addition to February’s Marrakesh event — have helped find wider overseas audiences for photographers’ work.
One of Africa’s prominent photographers is Kadara Enyeasi, who here explains in his own words, what his work aims to explore.
“I started taking photographs in high school. My immediate elder sister (in a family of four siblings — two elder sisters and a junior brother) had just begun her career as a model. She is now a fashion designer. I took pictures of her, and other family members, back then. It was a rush! Nothing special, just intimate family portraits with a 2-megapixel Nikon camera which I still happen to have in my possession.
“At first (my photography) was a deep yearning to understand my role in society. I engaged in taking performative self-portraits as a study of myself and orientation. This resulted in ‘Human Encounters,’ a body of work created over three years. It highlighted shapes, silhouettes and the interesting play of light and shadows across the human body.
“Forms (and) characters. A ladder placed askew on a wall. A forgotten shoe at the beach, a plastic bag moving in the wind. The poetics of these objects speak to me