Several African countries, including Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia have a flourishing economy. South Africa’s economy is the largest in Africa, making it a major global player. These countries primarily owe their progress to the exploitation of the minerals in Africa’s rich soil, but creative and sustainable economies are also seeing growth.
This series show the members of the SAPE community, made up of mostly young men, showing off their flamboyant and brightly coloured suits. The sapeurs have emerged in African and diaspora communities over the past 25 years. Often read as a post-colonial take on the European dandies of the late 18th and 19th century. All together Mouanda shows that being a sapeur is much more than spending tons of money on western designer clothing. Being a sapeur has to do with the way you speak, the way you move,…it’s also a political statement. It’s about changing views about how people see Africa.
In the waning days of civil war, “La SAPE embodies the way of self-expression of a ruptured generation which imposes their codes and transforms fashion into a popular spectacle trying to change the world, even if it’s only for an instant.”
The new Middle East that is emerging is one that is presented in Hassan’s images as bright, bold and assertive, but most importantly, vital. There is something about the style and pose of Hassan’s individuals which brings them very firmly into the discussion about his art. Women often pose in the traditional Hijab or Burqa, but are dressed head-to-toe in designer-label clothes – appearing both assertive and provocative, as if in the pages of Vogue. The images themselves are then hung in bright and clashing frames which are also often constructed by the artist himself.
The media, and the immigrants returning to their countries, keep the myth of the ‘Promised Land’ alive. In this process -consciously or not – our values tend to become myths, and therefore considered superior to the traditional values of other cultures. Although this process has been greatly accelerated in recent times, the problem goes way back, and in the African case, to the colonisation era. In this context, Mediavilla reckons the Congolese ‘SAPE’ to be evidence of the contradictions of our development model.
Jim Naughten, Lady in Pink with Zebra Scarf, 2012. Archival C-Print, 41 x 50 inches. Courtesy of Klompching Gallery
In the European ‘scramble’ for Africa, Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany claimed the last corner, ‘Deutsche Sudewest-Afrika’, homeland of the Herero. Rhenish missionaries set about clothing them in the European manner and over time, this became a tradition and a source of pride to the wearer.
Jodi Bieber, Tshepiso, 2008. Digital print in pigment inks, 162 x 220 cm. Courtesy Goodman Gallery Johannesburg/Cape Town
Namsa Leuba, Vili statuette, Fanta, Guinea, 2011. C-print, 28 x 35 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
Veleko’s subjects are rarely mainstream individuals. Many of them are characters that take risks in the ways that they declare themselves in the world and in so doing are often vulnerable within the domains that they inhabit, often at the edge of society. And some clearly reflect critical shifts that are taking place on that edge- Tracy Murinik
Martin Parr, South Africa. Durban. July Races, 2005. Courtesy Martin Parr / Magnum Photos
This series of photographs tries to depict the wealthy of the world relaxing and enjoying themselves at various art fairs, fashion shows, horse racing and polo events. I started this project in the middle of the last decade, well before the global crash of 2007/2008, when it seemed there was no end to the craziness and growth of the world economies. After the crash, when I was starting to finish this particular project, I thought of it more of an epitaph to that particular period. Now, a few years later, we know that there are more wealthy people in the world than ever, but there is a little more circumspection than before.
The selection includes a good few images from the Durban July, the biggest horse racing event in South Africa. I decided to visit this event to see how the new South Africa would present itself at a big social occasion. Sure enough, the wealthy whites with their old money were out in force, but we also saw the new wealthy blacks enjoying themselves, sometimes now even being served by the whites!
For this project, I’ve also ventured into the emerging BRIC countries and the Middle East. I went twice to Dubai, for example as it emerged as a regional centre for wealth creation and high spending, and although their crash was a bit later than the rest, they too are now back to the original growth rate.
In the humanitarian school of thinking within photojournalism, depicting poverty is an accepted topic. In one way, I photograph wealth with the same spirit: we are all in danger of creating an unsustainable global economy, and the wealthy of the world are part of this new equation. However I also try and create entertainment through my images, but if you look closely at them, you will see that they contain many ambiguities.
Phyllis Galembo, Ngar Ball Traditional Masquerade Dance, Cross River, Nigeria, 2004. Ilfochrome, 76 x 76 cm. Courtesy Phyllis Galembo and Steven Kasher Gallery, New York / Alex Daniëls – Reflex, Amsterdam.
Masking, which is practiced primarily by men but also women and children, is part of the contemporary African life in many ways. Each community has its own style and use for masquerade, including initiation rituals, weddings, funerals, coronations, and secret societies.
Leopard, 2011. Hand-printed silver gelatin print. Image size: 36 x 36cm, Paper size: 40 x 50cm. Edition of 7 + 2AP – Courtesy of the Artist and Stevenson Cape Town/Johannesburg
“Most communities had what we call ‘uSis’bhuti’. This is a term used to describe a boy who behaves like a girl. Why then do we hate these boys when they have grown up to be men who dress as women? Why do we turn and call them names, pretending that we’ve never seen it?”
Viviane Sassen, Untitled, from the series, Die Son Sien Alles 2002/2004. Book by Libraryman. © VivianeSassen
Wangechi Mutu, Fallen Heads, 2010. Collage, ink, mixed media on Mylar. 154.94 x 271.78 x 6.35 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; Collection of Paul and Linda Gotskind, Chicago, IL.
Yinka Shonibare, MBE. The Sleep of Reason (Africa), 2008. C-print mounted on aluminum, 207 x 147.3 x 6.4cm. Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Shonibare’s photographs ask in French: “Les songes de la raison produisent-ils les monstres en Afrique/en Amérique/en Asia/en Europe/en Australie?” (“Do the dreams of reason produce monsters in Africa/in America/in Asia/in Europe/in Australia?”). This translation seems to suggest that the imposition of the Enlightenment ideals may in fact create a few demons–such as dictators “democratically” voted into power.