Hassimi_Oumarou_Maiga_2010_Balancing_Wri.pdf - African Studies Quarterly | Volume 12 Issue 3 | Summer 2011 BOOK REVIEWS Tosha Grantham 2009 Darkroom

Hassimi_Oumarou_Maiga_2010_Balancing_Wri.pdf - African...

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African Studies Quarterly | Volume 12, Issue 3 | Summer 2011 © University of Florida Board of Trustees, a public corporation of the State of Florida; permission is hereby granted for individuals to download articles for their own personal use. Published by the Center for African Studies, University of Florida. ISSN: 2152-2448 BOOK REVIEWS Tosha Grantham. 2009. Darkroom: Photography and New Media in South Africa since 1950 . Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 150 pp. Erin Haney. 2010. Photography and Africa . London: Reaktion Books. 192 pp. These two works, each by independent curators, attempt a synthesis of the studies of photography of, by, and for Africans which have primarily emerged over the past twenty years. While quite different in their scope Darkroom is an extended museum catalog; Photography and Africa contains several lengthy treatments of specific subthemes they both provide essential substance for readers to understand why Enwezor and Zaya concluded, ‚No media has been more instrumental in creating a great deal of visual fictions of the African continen t than photography‛ (Haney, p. 8). At the same time, both works illustrate how photographers purposefully created visual images that challenged a variety of cultural and political ‚fictions.‛ Darkroom begins with several curatorial essays, each equipping the reader in differing ways for the images to follow. Tosha Grantham, the primary force behind this exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, begins with a brief examination of the various exhibit sections and the logic(s) for their selection. Grouped into eight thematic sections and chronologically ordered (although frequently overlapping), the exhibit features what could be considered three ‚generations‛ of photographers working in South Africa: those born in the 30s-40s whose work featured prominently in publications such as Drum magazine; those born in the 50s-60s whose work brought the political realities of high apartheid to international attention; and those born in the 70s who have expanded the realm of photography to include a variety of video installation art and computer/digital techniques. Isolde Brielmaier’s essay ‚Africa and Photography: Then, Now, and Next‛ comprises a useful introduction to the central trends since 1990 in the exhibition of African photography, including significant installations in Johannesburg, Miami, New York, Paris, and Washington, DC. But she also highlights the important tension between approaches that treat photography as art, with the resultant canonical tendency, and those approaches more driven by an thropological enquiry. The first presents photography ‚as a contemporary technology used by Africans to create new subjectivities and contest stereotypes< , ‛ while the second focuses on ‚the ways in which photography is practiced and consumed locally<‛ (Gr antham, pp. 11-12).
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