Passing on the Torch The number of photographers represented in Africa State of Mind comes close to the number of countries, fifty four, that make up the continent. When so many African artists turn their lenses on rapidly changing societies freighted with histories of colonialism, expect to find diversity and diffraction in their multiplicity of responses. The photographs have mostly been taken over the last decade and what they effect is a conscious decoupling from the hackneyed visual tropes that for so long have characterized representations of Africa. The result is a celebratory affection for everyday life that does not ignore contested issues of the past and present. The Western gaze that has been turned upon the continent, occupying ground somewhere between the voyeuristic and the anthropological, is explored and undermined by a number of the artists. The first of the book’s four sections, ‘Hybrid Cities’, has an empirical foundation: by the end of this decade, over half of all Africans will live in urban areas. Girma Berta, on the street in his country’s capital, Addis Ababa, responds by isolating...
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