When I Say Africa: Photographs from the Continent
This selection of photographs by African artists offers an alternative vision of Africa. By documenting the agency and self-determination of contemporary Africans, When I Say Africa: Photographs from the Continent challenges the "voluntourism" urge prompted by mainstream imagery of a country in crisis. This exhibit is an interactive companion to the forthcoming film When I Say Africa.
The late Kenyan writer Biyavanga Wainiana demonstrated how the common tropes of representations of Africa in the west have remained consistent into the 21st century: rural; silent; musical; primordial; primitive; focused on the past or on tragedies. These images are central to the concept of charity for young Americans. They make Africa the space that young Americans are most likely to see as needing them to save.
"The West as a whole has decidedly taken Africa under its wing and has made it the perfect place for a nationwide empathy movement."-on When I Say Africa (Eye Candy, "Feature: Stop Victimizing Africa!," Afropunk)
If photographs are doing this work of extraction, When I Say Africa aims to reframe our expectations of Africa, changing how we see the country, and ultimately, how we engage with Africans. Participating photographers include: Fati Abubakar (Nigeria, currently in Duke's Experimental and Documentary Arts MFA program); Thina Zibi (South Africa); Barbara Minishi (Kenya); Neo Ntsoma (South Africa); and Hilina Abebe (Ethiopia).