art me africa

Camara on Certain Mornings

Posted in art, mali, photography by artmeafrica on January 15, 2009

Certains matins, je suis le cactus de siberie, certains matins, 2005Mohamed Camara’s series, Certains Matins (certain mornings), possess the air of a sojourner’s memoirs to the center of rituals that usually, sometimes, and occasionally happen. His self-portrait, Certains matins, je suis le cactus de Sibérie, is a serenade of contrasting temperatures manifested in black skin against white snow. Certains matins, ma cousine me fait des trucs que je ne comprends pas, Certains matins, elle est la premiere à commencer la journeé à la fenetre, and Certains matins je prie mon dieu are homages to sacred aberrations. Yet Camara’s work, refreshingly, doesn’t offer definitive positions about post-colonial adaptation and the other usual  90s crit theory suspects

Stealing hearts on the international art circuit in 2003, Camara’s impressive early resume boasted all the widely traveled African art shows –Bamako 03, Bamako 05, Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography– alongside solo shows at Galerie Pierre Brullé in Paris, Zuiderpershuis in Belgium, and a 2004 Tate Modern solo exhibit, Untitled: Mohamed Camara. However since his Certains Matins series appeared in Bamako 2007, this digi-photographer-cum-footballer for Bamako has fallen off the radar save showing up in Galerie Hengevoss-Dürkop’s group show planet africa. Just maybe this lad of romantic liturgy will make a come back in this year’s Bamako 2009. If not, we’ll have to settle with murky editorial shots of footballing legs.


Sammy’s Spectacular Closet P.2

Posted in art, photography, Uncategorized by artmeafrica on January 7, 2009

Autoportrait, African SpiritsIf you thought lens daddy Samuel Fosso’s closet-o-dictator couldn’t have gotten better after Le Chef, then you ain’t seen his newest series, African Spirits. At Paris’s Galerie Jean Marc Patras ‘til March and the highlight of Foam International Photography Magazine’s issue number 17, ‘Portrait?’ the b+w series pulls together a dazzling troupe of friends, enemies, heroes, and all around shady dudes. Flashing himself into Mobutu, Patrice Lumumba, Mohamed Ali, and Angela Davis to name a few, Fosso, as always, resembles his subjects better than your fave docudrama ever could. So if you’re broke like the rest of us and can’t make it to Paris, pick up a copy of Foam for hardcopy Sammys and Olu Oguibe’s article that confirms all the moma gossip.

Montage Me Congo Mr. Baloji

Posted in africa, photography by artmeafrica on December 10, 2008

Gégamines, 2006

A Lubumbashi gent born and raised, Sammy Baloji is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s mix-master of subversive photo montages. Circumventing the impulse to snap easy pix of rundown landscapes and rust or depressing images of peeps amid war ‘n economic depression, Baloji’s 2006 series “Mémoire is an aesthetic contortion of Dada meets nouveau photoshop geek with more than a dollop of regional history smeared ontop. Digging into the archive, Baloji extracts b&w images of migrant mine workers from the early 20th Century and superimposes them over contemporary shots of the now abandoned industrial landscape. The mines, established by sadistic Belgians ‘n Congolese in 1908 for the Congo Free State colonial enterprise, fell into disrepair once ole Mobutu (think leopard patterned hat) caught hold of ’em in ’66, and have since become a Bermuda Triangle for power games. Yet despite the bloody history packed into the series, Baloji’s work possesses an air of dignity, as if his photographic cut outs, once victimized by colonial contests, have returned to lay claim to their labor.

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Sammy’s Spectacular Closet

Posted in africa, art, photography by artmeafrica on December 7, 2008

You’ve seen his work and it sort of reminded you of Cindy Sherman meets Malik Sidibé so you already love him, but you can’t remember his name— he’s Samuel Fosso, the damn fine lookin’ gent who transformed traditional West African studio photography from family photos+fabrics to a gender bending, power transgressing tableaux. Shuttering himself into the handsomest Samuel he can be since the mid-1970s, first in black and white and later in color, the roster of role-portrait Samuels range from tribal salesman (see Le Chef) to liberated 70s disco cowstress to his grandfather’s dream. Born in Cameroon, raised in Nigeria, residing in Central African Republic, rumor has it Fosso began churnin’ out the auto-portraits at breakneck awesomeness to send home to Mom in Nigeria. But canards or grapevines aside, since entering the international stage as the star of Okwui Enwezor’s mega show In/sight: African Photographers 1940 to the Present, Fosso’s gender, power, and expectation bending photos have been everywhere. So if you don’t know him, get to it, cause he’s one sassy lens daddy.

Everybody loves Lolo

Posted in africa, art, photography, south africa by artmeafrica on November 30, 2008

Ayanda Makhuzeni, Gugulethu, Cape Town, Western Cape, 2007


Shot in Jo’burg’s polychromatic streets, Lolo Veleko’s Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder (2004+) and Wonderland (2007+) are sexy compendiums of young fashionistas and urban spots that boldly declare Urban Africa ain’t just Hyena men and crumbling Lumumbas. Owing to her subjects’ boss coordination of accessories and necessaries, Veleko’s photos could easily be popped into a more racially astute version of Nylon’s Street Stylin’ section, even if she isn’t snapping for commerce. Veleko documents looks as vocab for cultural communication and q’s of complex post-Aparthied identity. But before calling it classic post-colonial politicin’ v. shallow hipster connoisseurship, consider the parallels between her work and Fruits‘s insight into transformative Japanese textiles and hair color or if ensembles sans baby tees make you sleep better at night, think The Sartorialist– afterall, they are both repped by Danzinger Gallery (Chelsea, NY). Yet despite being represented in Chelsea and by Goodman Gallery (Gauteng, J’burg), Lolo sits under a measure of obscurity in NY’s Chelesea/Soho/LES/Dumbo/Billyburg gallery pentagon. So tsk tsk to all you in-the-dark photophiles and go check out her latest exhibit in Berlin.