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Exhibition: A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography at the Tate Modern

Thirty six artists from different generations and geographies make up A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography.

Unfolding across seven thematic sections, the exhibition at the Tate Modern in the South Bank, highlights contemporary perspectives on cultural heritage, spirituality and urbanisation, that reclaim Africa’s histories and reimagine its place in the world.

Africa has been broadly defined by Western images of its cultures and traditions since the invention of photography.

Throughout the colonial period, photography was used as a tool to construct a Eurocentric representation of African societies.

Challenging these dominant images of the continent, A World in Common features about 100 works of alternative histories, cultures and identities of Africa.

Regal portraits of kings and queens join intimate scenes of family life, fading archival postcards of vanishing cities, and stark documentary images of post-industrial ruin.

Family photo albums and composed studio portraits reflect the shared sense of community and belonging that connects Africa and its global diaspora.

The power of ritual plays an important role in many African religions and spiritual practices.

For artists Khadija Saye, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Maïmouna Guerresi and Em’kal Eyongakpa these rites of passage and acts of remembrance offer portals between the living and their ancestors.

The exhibition will also explore the rise of studio photography across the continent during the 1950s and 1960s, a time when many African nations gained independence.

Working within their communities, pioneering photographers such as James Barnor in Ghana and Lazhar Mansouri in Algeria, photographed families and individuals who would gather proudly to have their portraits taken, often for the first time.

The exhibition will be open from July 6 until January 14.


Pictures: Mario Macilau, Breaking News from The Profit Corner series Picture: Mario Macilau

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