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A new generation of African photographers

2017-05-07 06:00
Lebohang Kganye
(PHOTO: ke lefa lefa by lebohang kganye)

Cape Town - A new generation of African photographers are redreaming the medium again.

Look, for example, at the Africans among the 25 young shooting stars chosen for the short list of the sixth prize for contemporary African photography – the CAP Prize – which awards depictions of life on the continent and the diaspora.

Once famous for documentary work around civil war and poverty, African photographers began turning the lens on themselves. But in the era of #BlackLivesMatter and the crisis of immigration, the new school is increasingly interested in family and legacy as a space to explore identity.

The themes are personal and political, and there’s a fierce social justice edge in the work of many of the finalists, which includes two South Africans: Tsoku Maela and Lebohang Kganye.

Of course there is a rise in the use of smartphones to make work and a playful use of fantasy and props, digital effects, and fashion-shoot elements. But what’s really compelling is the broad range of personal-life themes, painting a kind of social fabric where meaning is found beneath the surface, trading in memory, legacy and private history.

The work looks at, among many other themes, illegal traffickers in Benin, albinism in Tanzania, seaside holidays in Algeria, the social effects of climate change in west Africa, the decline of cinema and the rise of war in Sudan, the lives of second-generation African immigrants in Italy, racism towards Africans in India, conquering mental illness in South Africa, the performance of self-love in Ghana, getting an education in the midst of the Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria...

Poverty still echoes through the work of the new photographers, but shows life being lived despite social challenges, especially those faced by women and immigrants.

Five of the 25 short-listed artists will be named as winners of the 2017 CAP Prize.

They will be awarded “global exposure at major international photography exhibitions”, including at Image Afrique during Art Basel in Switzerland and also at the LagosPhoto Festival in Nigeria, the FIFCV Festival Internacional de Fotografia de Cabo Verde or Eyes On – European Month of Photography in Vienna.

They will also have their portfolios published and will win residencies to create their next bodies of work.

To see all the short-listed work visit capprize.com