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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

Carol Magee

(b Bamako, 1959).

Malian photographer. He began his career in 1983 when he began documenting cultural patrimony for the Musée National du Mali, where he was staff photographer. His photographs present both broad and intimate views of life, and he is equally skilled in capturing a place empty of people as he is with close-ups, for example of hands or feet. Suggesting both absence and intimate presence, he evokes a powerful sense of the human condition. His aesthetically stunning works offer views that might otherwise go unnoticed: feet pedaling a bicycle, a faint reflection of a colourful boat on creamy white water. Working in both black and white and colour, he almost never shows the faces of his subjects as he captures them at work or in everyday pursuits, for example in Le bol de lait (1997). He suggests people through their interaction with their surroundings; although they remain anonymous, they have an overpowering presence. Light is important both technically and compositionally: in photographed reflections off the land and buildings, one senses the overpowering Malian sun, and such conditions enable him to create images rich in saturated colours....

Article

Elaine E. Sullivan

(b Lubumbashi, Dec 29, 1978).

Congolese photographer. Baloji’s photomontages explore themes of memory, architecture, and the environment. Such subjects are frequently treated through the use of archival photographs and watercolours, juxtaposed with contemporary photographs taken by the artist. By foregrounding archival images of labourers and overseers against contemporary urban and rural landscapes, Baloji’s work humanizes the colonial industrial history of his native Katanga province.

Sammy Baloji grew up in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he attended the University of Lubumbashi and in 2005 received degrees in Information Sciences and Communication. While working as a cartoonist he borrowed a camera to photograph scenes to use as source material for his drawings. This sparked his interest in photography, which he began to study in the DRC. In 2005 he moved to France, where he continued to study photography as well as video at the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg.

Baloji’s work explores the history of Katanga through photography of both the natural and built environment. The locations Baloji photographs display the colonial and industrial pasts that continue to inform present-day politics and everyday life. Abandoned factories remind the viewer of Katanga’s prosperous mining past, and photographs of recently burnt fields where colonial outposts once stood shed light on a post-colonial reality....

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

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

Born 1956, in Kitwe, Zambia.

Painter, sculptor, printmaker, video artist, land artist, watercolourist, curator.

Clive van den Berg came to South Africa in 1966, and trained at the University of Natal. He taught fine arts at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg ...

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

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

Active in Germany.

Born 29 January 1972, in Johannesburg.

Video artist, photographer, photomontage artist, printmaker, performance artist.

Appropriation Art.

After completing her undergraduate fine art studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) in 1993, Candice Breitz travelled to the United States on a Fulbright scholarship. She completed a Master’s degree at the University of Chicago in ...

Article

Kimberly Juanita Brown

(b Johannesburg, Sept 13, 1960; d Johannesburg, July 27, 1994).

South African documentary photographer. Carter swiftly became famous after one of his images appeared in the New York Times in 1993. That photograph, captioned A Vulture Watches a Starving Child, won him the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1994. He committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning three months later, solidifying his fame in a swirling mélange of international tragedy, racial politics, and personal trauma.

Born in 1960 in Parkmore, a suburb of Johannesburg, into a firmly segregated South Africa, Carter was one of three children and the only son of Jimmy and Roma Carter. When he was later conscripted into the South African Defence Forces, Carter found it difficult to enforce the mandates of racial apartheid. As soon as he was able, he transitioned out of the SADF and into the world of photography. He began his career as a sports photographer and quickly moved into documentary photography. His disdain for the fully structured apartheid system was a matter of public and private record, and this disdain fuelled his desire to document the racial violence engulfing South Africa in the decade before the end of apartheid....

Article

Susan Kart

(b Nairobi, 1958).

Kenyan photographer, multimedia and performance artist, and teacher of Indian descent, active in the USA. DeSouza was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Raised in London from the age of 7, he called his background that of a ‘double colonial history’. DeSouza attended Goldsmiths College in London and the Bath Academy of Art, and although he has worked primarily in photography and as a writer on contemporary art, he has also branched out into performance art, digital painting, and textual and mixed media arts. He moved to the USA in 1992 and in 2012 became of Head of Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.

The primary themes in deSouza’s work are those of colonial encounter, seen in Indigena/Assimilado (1998), a photographic series of migrant workers in Los Angeles; migration, as explored in Threshold (1996–8), his early photographic series of airports empty of people; exile, which he explored in ...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Douala, 1962).

Cameroonian photographer and dancer, active in the Netherlands. Essamba moved to Paris at the age of nine and later studied philosophy at the Lyceum. After marrying and moving to Amsterdam, she studied photography at the Fotovaschool. She first exhibited at the Gallerie Art Collective, Amsterdam (1984), and subsequently has shown in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. In 1996 she was awarded the Prix Spécial Afrique at the Festival des Trois Continents, Nantes, for her 1995 suite of black-and-white photographs, White Line. Her images primarily represent black women, challenging Eurocentric expectations of depictions of Africans. She explores mysticism and eroticism through sensual depictions of strong bodies. Her focus on the aesthetics of the body is evident in poses that also show her interest in dance and movement. In 1991 her work was shown in Cameroon for the first time. While there she did a series, ...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Kumba, July 17, 1962).

Cameroonian photographer, active in the Central African Republic and France. Fosso is internationally known for his self-portrait photographs, described by Stuart Hall as ‘carefully staged, ironic self-performances’. Fosso was born in Cameroon and his mother, of Igbo origin, took him to Nigeria as a young child to stay with his grandfather. As a 13-year-old, during the Nigerian Civil War (1967–70), Fosso fled that country due to the ongoing violence against the Igbo peoples and went to the Central African Republic to live with an uncle in Bangui. Fosso trained briefly with a local photographer in Bangui, but apart from this he was entirely self-taught. In 1975 he opened his own studio, the Studio Photo Nationale.

Fosso earned a living taking black-and-white passport photos and studio photographs of individuals and groups. During his time off work he used up any extra film shooting portraits of himself. Ostensibly, these were to send back to his mother in Nigeria to show that he was well. From the outset, however, it was clear that he considered these images to be artworks, staged as they were with props from his studio, implicit theatrical narratives, dynamic compositions, and the calculated intensifications of blacks and whites in the finished prints....

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

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

Born 29 November 1930, in Randfontein, near Johannesburg.

Photographer. Landscape, buildings, people, socio-political commentary.

David Goldblatt is recognised as one of South Africa’s most important photographers. His early work, indeed his very ambition to become a photographer, was modelled on the image he discovered in the great international picture magazines of the fifties such as ...

Article

Allison Moore

(b Randfontein, Gauteng Province, Nov 29, 1930).

South African photographer. David Goldblatt’s grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. He grew up as a white and therefore privileged South African, but he also experienced anti-Semitism from white Afrikaners. His interest in photography was piqued in high school by magazines such as Life, Look, and Picture Post. After graduation Goldblatt assisted a local photographer, but was unable to break into magazine work. The harsh sunlight of South Africa influenced his aesthetic, while American photographer Paul Strand, whom he met abroad, influenced his printing technique.

Goldblatt worked in his father’s shop for a decade while taking photographs. Apartheid, South Africa’s regime of racial segregation, was officially instituted in 1948 and black oppression intensified in the years that Goldblatt was making South African society the subject of his work. In 1963, after his father’s death, he sold the shop and became a full-time photographer, working for national and international corporations and magazines, such as the British ...

Article

South African, 21st century, male.

Born 29 October 1976, in Johannesburg.

Photojournalist, documentary photographer. Portraiture, landscape, social groups.

Pieter Hugo worked in the film industry until 1999, when he started freelancing as an editorial photographer. After publishing in Colors, an influential photo magazine, Hugo in ...

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

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

Born 28 April 1955, in Johannesburg.

Draughtsman, engraver, graphic designer, film producer, sculptor, theatre and opera designer and producer. Multimedia, animated films.

Land Art.

Although William Kentridge has practised his creativity in many domains and in a wide range of media (animated films, land art, sculpture, printmaking, theatre and opera design and production, installations), it is chiefly his large-scale charcoal drawings in process (drawing for animation) and his unique, short, animated films and their projection that have given him international fame....

Article

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

Born 18 January 1932, in Vrededorp, Johannesburg.

Photojournalist, documentary photographer. Figures, social conflict, traditional customs.

Peter Magubane grew up in Sophiatown, a mixed-race suburb in Johannesburg razed by apartheid authorities in 1955. Employed as a messenger and driver by Drum...