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Article

Aurélie Verdier

(b Saïda, Algeria, 1953).

French painter, sculptor, photographer, film maker, writer and installation artist of Algerian birth. Born to Spanish parents, he was much affected by North African as well as Southern European culture. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. Despite a pervasive and diverse use of media, Alberola often stressed the coexistence of his different artistic practices as leading to painting alone. His paintings relied heavily on evocative narratives, at once personal and ‘historical’. Alberola conceived of his role as a storyteller, on the model of African oral cultures. Convinced that narratives could not be renewed, he argued that a painter’s main task was to reactivate his work through contact with his pictorial heritage. The main points of reference for his paintings of the early 1980s were Velázquez, Manet or Matisse, whose works he quoted in a personal way. In the early 1980s he undertook a series of paintings inspired by mythological subjects, which he combined with his own history as the principal subject-matter of his work. The biblical story of Susannah and the Elders as well as the Greek myth of Actaeon provided his most enduring subjects, both referring to the act of looking as taboo, as in ...

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1959, in Johannesburg.

Photomontage artist, sculptor of assemblages, installation artist.

Jane Alexander completed a Master of Arts in Fine Art at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 1988. She has been professor at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, since ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Nigeria, 1963).

Nigerian photographer, film maker, installation artist and writer active in Scotland. He studied Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde University, Glasgow (1981–85), before completing an MA in Media, Fine Art, Theory and Practice at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1996–8). Bamgboyé’s earliest work was photographic: The Lighthouse series (1989; see 1998 book, p. 65) initiated his interest in the representation of black masculinity by depicting his own naked body in often theatrical contortions, amid mundane domestic rooms; the frames of the photographs are attached to coat hangers, underlining the theme of domesticity and pointing to his interest in the changeable character of subjectivity. These themes were further explored in films, which he began to make in 1993: Spells for Beginners (1994; see 2000 exh. cat., p. 74) explores the breakdown of his long-term relationship with a woman through a broken mix of confessional dialogue and fleeting images of their home. The installation of which this film is a part takes the form of an ordinary living room and is typical of Bamgboyé’s technique of adumbrating his imagery with sculptural motifs that emphasize his themes. In other films he explored the issue of migration: ...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Mbarara, 1963).

Ugandan photographer, film maker, and installation artist of Indian descent, active in the UK. Bhimji was born in Uganda to Indian parents. The family fled Uganda to England in 1972 due to President Idi Amin’s expulsion of all Asians and Asian-Ugandans from the country along with seizure of their property and businesses as part of his ‘economic war’ on Asia. Bhimji studied art at Goldsmiths College and the Slade School of Art in London and her photographic work primarily consists of close-up, sometimes abstracted glimpses of seemingly abandoned spaces, objects, and landscapes. Bhimji’s work focuses on India and Uganda, which are treated as almost anthropomorphic subjects that appear restless, unfinished, abandoned, or frozen in her photographs, films, and film stills. Bhimji was one of four shortlisted finalists for the Turner Prize in 2007, and her work has been exhibited alongside such artists as El Anatsui, António Olé, Yinka Shonibare, and ...

Article

Moroccan, 20th century, male.

Active also active in France.

Born 26 April 1934, in El Jadida.

Painter, draughtsman, lithographer, collage artist, film maker.

André Elbaz studied at Rabat's school of graphic art while at the same time taking drama classes at the city's theatre school. He began experimenting with collage while making posters for his theatre group, Mazagan, in El Jadida. Following a trip to France in ...

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, male.

Born May 1968 in Johannesburg.

Conceptual, installation, performance and video artist.

Influenced by his identity as a white Afrikaner growing up during apartheid, Kendell Geers’ artistic production reveals questions of a political, ethical, aesthetic and spiritual nature.

2002, Documenta 11...

Article

Russell Gullette

(b Johannesburg, May 1968).

South African installation, performance, and video artist and photographer. Geers is part of a generation of African artists who emerged during the global expansion of the art world in the 1990s. Born into a white working-class family, he studied fine arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg from 1985 to 1987. Geers was exiled for refusing to serve in the South African Defence Force in 1989. With the threat of imprisonment removed after the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in 1990 he returned to Johannesburg. Then in 2000 he moved to Brussels.

Geers has described his artistic position as a TerroRealist. His work features everyday, vernacular materials such as beer bottles, razor wire, pornography, neon signs, and expletives such as ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’. He employed these materials as a means to challenge various manifestations of power, whether state terror, working-class oppression, history, or, at his most poetic, language....

Article

Sarah Urist Green

revised by Julia Detchon

(b Santiago, Chile, Feb 5, 1956).

Chilean architect, public interventionist, installation artist, photographer, and filmmaker, active in the USA. He first studied architecture at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, then filmmaking at the Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano de Cultura, Santiago, concluding in 1981. Throughout his career, Jaar’s works have taken many forms in order to address global themes of injustice and illuminate structures of power. In over fifty projects he termed “public interventions,” Jaar conducted extensive research around the world to create site-specific works that reflect political and social realities near and far from his sites of exhibition. He created works—in gallery spaces and in public, often engaging spectator involvement—that present images critically and confront the social and political interests they serve.

Jaar’s first public intervention was Studies on Happiness (1979–1981), a three-year series of performances and exhibitions in which he asked the question, “Are you happy?” of people in the streets of Santiago. Inspired by ...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Umlazi, Durban, July 19, 1972). South African photographer and video and installation artist. Muholi has identified as a black Zulu lesbian and her artworks engage with her own identity at the same time as they seek to integrate LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) identities into mainstream acceptance in South Africa and elsewhere. Muholi is part of a generation of African artists for whom photography remains a powerful tool for socio-political commentary in the post-colonial and post-apartheid era. In ...

Article

Christine Robinson

[Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter]

(b Nairobi, 1975).

Kenyan and German performance artist, installation artist, photographer, and video artist. Mwangi’s work addresses notions of cultural difference, social conventions, racial categories, and national identity, primarily through an autobiographical lens. She has often utilized her body as a subject and engaged with questions related to her own African-European heritage. In 2005 Mwangi shifted from a mostly solo practice to a collaborative partnership with her husband, German artist Robert Hutter (b 1964). From that time, the pair has worked and exhibited exclusively under the name IngridMwangiRobertHutter. Together they have explored larger human experiences and universal issues of stereotypes, fear and negotiations between different cultures, genders, nationalities, and religions through multimedia works that have produced cross-cultural dialogues.

Mwangi was raised in Nairobi by a German mother and a Kenyan father. In 1990, as a teenager, she moved with her family to Germany and studied at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar in Saarbrücken from ...

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1961, in Cape Town.

Photographer, photo-based media artist, video artist, installation artist.

Jo Ractliffe received her Master of Fine Art from the University of Cape Town and today lives in Johannesburg, where she teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand and Market Photo Workshop....

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1974, in Durban.

Performance artist, installation artist, photographer, video artist.

Tracey Rose obtained a BA Fine Arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1996, and a Masters in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London in ...

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, male.

Born 5 February 1958, in Pretoria.

Printmaker, sculptor, watercolourist, curator.

Joachim Schönfeldt spent his childhood in Windhoek, Namibia, and graduated with a fine arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 1980. He began his career as a researcher into old African art and curios and spent time during the 1980s as a curator of the Meneghelli Holdings. His work in the field of African curios was seminal to the development of his art, which explores the idea of casting mythical realities on African value systems, involving found objects, multiple-headed animals, and peri-urban local landscapes drawn from photographs of his childhood holidays....

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1964, in Cape Town.

Performance artist, installation artist, photographer, video artist.

Berni Searle graduated with a BA in Fine Art (1987) and an MA in Fine Art (1995) from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. She taught sculpture at Stellenbosch University between ...

Article

Robin Holmes

(b Paris, April 1, 1963).

French photographer, video artist, and installation artist of Algerian descent, active in the UK. Born in Paris in 1963, Zineb Sedira relocated to England in 1986. In 1995 she earned a BA in critical fine art practice with a focus on post-colonial studies at Central Saint Martins School of Art. She finished an MFA in Media at the Slade School of Art in 1997 and conducted research studies at the Royal College of Art until 2003. Through the use of self-portraiture, family narrative, and images of the Mediterranean, her work has addressed ethnic, religious, and gender identities as well as issues of stereotype, displacement, and migration. She draws on her Algerian heritage in much of her work, evoking North Africa through the integration of traditional Islamic forms and motifs into her installations. In her 1997 work Quatre générations de femmes, Sedira incorporated repeated images of her mother, daughter, and herself into traditional Islamic tile patterns (...

Article

Nigerian and British, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in London.

Born 1962, in London.

Installation artist, painter, photographer.

Young British Artists.

Yinka Shonibare grew up in Lagos but returned to London, his birthplace, at the age of 17. He has received a number of awards, including the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Visual Artists in ...

Article

Andrew Cross

revised by Mary Chou

(b London Aug 9, 1962).

British sculptor, painter and installation artist. Born to Nigerian parents, he grew up in Nigeria before returning to England to study Fine Art in London at Byam Shaw School of Art and Goldsmiths’ College where he completed his MFA. Shonibare’s West African heritage has been at the heart of his work since he started exhibiting in 1988, when he began using ‘Dutch-wax’ dyed fabrics, commonly found in Western Africa, both for wall-mounted works (as pseudo paintings) and for sculpted figures. Generally perceived as ‘authentic’African cloth, the tradition of Batik originated in Indonesia, and was appropriated by the Dutch who colonized the country. Manufactured in Holland and Britain, the cloth was then shipped to West Africa where it became the dress of the working class in nations such as Nigeria. Shonibare used the material as a way of deconstructing the more complex histories that determine these and other images of ethnicity. As such, he has been described as a ‘post-cultural hybrid’ or the ‘quintessential postcolonial artist’ by critics as well as the artist himself....

Article

Shannen Hill

(b Vryburg, 1953).

South African painter, printmaker, photographer, installation artist and video artist. She received an BA (1974) and an MA (1976) in Fine Arts from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, and a postgraduate diploma from Portsmouth Polytechnic, UK (1979). Her work has appeared in many exhibitions: the Venice Biennale (1993), the Bienal de Havana (1994, 1997), the Johannesburg Biennale (1995, 1997) and Kwanju Biennale in Korea (1995). She has explored different media and themes since gaining recognition for her high relief oil paintings of the 1980s, but her concerns remain those of process, conceptual dualities, histories told and remembered. Through narrative, allegory, appropriation, parody and punning, her subjects challenge racialized and gendered representations, and reveal history as ever-mediated. In Piling Wreckage Upon Wreckage (1989; Cape Town, N.G.) a black girl sits atop an expansive pile of objects (e.g. silverware, a grand piano, paintings) that denote civilized taste and fill the space to suggest limitlessness and domination. Unlike Western prototypes, the girl is overwhelmed by the debris and cannot control its associative meanings. Siopis continued to question ideological constructions in her work on urban domestic identities of the mid-1990s. Her work of the late 1990s was autobiographical, though firmly entangled within aparteid's complex past. ...

Article

South African, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in Cape Town.

Born 1974, in Cape Town.

Sculptor, engraver, installation artist, video artist.

Doreen Southwood graduated from the university of Stellenbosch in 1998. She creates three-dimensional installations based on the autobiographical themes of mental illness, obsession and the quest for identity among South African women. In ...

Article

Chika Okeke

(b Lagos, 1965).

Nigerian photographer, painter and installation artist , active in the USA. He attended Hunter College, City University of New York. In the 1980s he worked mainly as a painter but also collaborated with such New York artists as Carrie May Weems and Lyle Ashton Harris. In 1993 he developed his photographic work, dealing with issues of representation and urban life, particularly race, gender and sexual identity. His self-portraits, in which he wears women’s cosmetics, comment on assumptions about what constitutes gender identity, as in Woman in Egyptian Art (1996). They also reference the costume and make-up of Igbo ‘female’ masquerades, which are normally danced by men ( see Igbo §2 ). He also uses self-portraiture to criticize American culture. In his Cover Girl series (1994–9), for instance, he designed mock magazine covers for Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Condé Naste Traveller, making himself the cover girl. The ‘articles’ in these imaginary journals frequently address the West’s relation to Africa, for example, ‘Hysteria Over the Death of the Noble Savage’. Thus the ...