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 often evokes 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

Doa Aly
Lara Baladi
Oladélé Ajiboyé Bamgboyé
Yto Barrada
Luis Basto
Zohra Bensemra
Zarina Bhimji
Mohamed Camara
Ali ChraÏbi
Allan De Souza
Depth of Field (DOF) Collective
Andrew Dosunmu
Hala Elkoussy
Theo Eshetu
Mamadou Gomis
Kay Hassan
Romauld Hazoumé
Moshekwa Langa

Maha Maamoun
Boubacar Touré Mandémory
Zwelethu Mthethwa
James Muriuki
Lamia Naji
Otobong Nkanga
Omar D. (Daoud)
Jo Ratcliffe
Tracey Rose
Fatou Kandé Senghor
Randa Shaath
Mikhael Subotzky
Sada Tangara
Guy Tillim
Michael Tsegaye
Hentie Van Der Merwe
Nontsikelelo "Lolo" Veleko

Special Thanks

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.