From Africa, but elsewhere too

The National Gallery is currently hosting a showcase of African photography, a further group exhibition at the same venue presenting work from further afield

artsouthafrica issues
Zak Ove, Trinidad and Tobago Transfigura Series (The Devil Is White), 2004, digital print, 120 x 150cm CAPE TOWN, Dec. 8, 2010 — Established in 1994, the Bamako biennale
of African photography has rapidly acquired the status of a must-see event. Unfortunately, with air travel in African often costing more than flights elsewhere and routings there roundabout, the biennale is not as well attended as should be.

In a coup for Riason Naidoo, director of the Iziko South African National
Gallery, his institution is currently hosting a selection of work shown on the 2009 Bamako African Photographic Biennale.

Curated by Michket Krifa and Laura Serani, Borders includes more than 230 works produced by 40 photographers and 13 video artists. The work is loosely themed around the issue of borders.

As with any synoptic overview of a subject — here it is African photography — the range and content of the work on offer varies considerably.

The exhibition nontheless underscores the presence and vitality of
photography on the continent, especially in such regions as South Africa,
Nigeria, Mali and northern Africa where, for the past few years, fairs,
biennials, galleries and art centres have burgeoned.

The Bamako exhibition profitably coincides with two other exhibitions: a showcase of individual photography by Roger Ballen, and a large-scale group exhibition that, like the Bamako presentation, originated elsewhere.

During the FIFA Wolrd Cup, the Goodman Gallery’s Liza Essers organised a well-received group exhibition in Johannesburg that included work by Ghada Amer, Candice Breitz, Mounir Fatmi, Jenny
Holzer, Robin Rhode and Mikhael
Subotzky, amongst others.

Where the focus of the Bamako redux is resolutely African, In
Context casts the net wider.

Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse, Windows, Ponte City, 2008-10, Light box “In this
gathering of artists — envisioned as a series of conversations and engagements
— the question of context is posed once again, but problematised in various
ways,” reads a press statement.

“Do African artists wish to continue speaking of context? How do artists
of the African diaspora reflect on their distance from and proximity to home?
Where is home? How have some artists living in Europe and the Americas
inherited and absorbed an African heritage or sensibility, even when they have
not visited the Continent?”

In Context is on view until March 13, 2011.

Borders has a shorter run and will close on January 30, 2011.