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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

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

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

Martha Schwendener

[Ben Youseph Nathan, Esther Zeghdda]

(b London, Nov 21, 1869; d Brooklyn, NY, Nov 27, 1933).

American photographer. Born Esther Zeghdda Ben Youseph Nathan to a German mother and an Algerian father, she immigrated to the United States in 1895. She worked as a milliner in New York before opening a photographic portrait studio in 1897. Her ‘gallery of illustrious Americans’ featured actresses, politicians, and fashionable socialites, including President Theodore Roosevelt, author Edith Wharton, artist William Merritt Chase, and actress Julia Marlowe. Ben-Yusuf also created Pictorialist-inspired artwork like The Odor of Pomegranates (1899; see fig.), an allegory informed by the myth of Persephone and the idea of the pomegranate as a tantalizing but odourless fruit. Ben-Yusuf was included in an exhibition organized by the Linked Ring, Brotherhood of the in London in 1896 and continued to exhibit in the group’s annual exhibitions until 1902. Her photographs were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1898 and at the Camera Club of New York in ...

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

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

Allison Moore

(b Eersterust, March 21, 1940; d New York City, Feb 18, 1990).

South African photojournalist, active also in the USA. Cole, of Bapedi ethnicity, grew up in a black township near Pretoria. His father was a tailor and his mother a washerwoman. One of six children, he suffered from malnutrition. Cole hoped to become a doctor, but the Bantu Education Act (a 1953 segregation law) prevented this, so he left school at the age of 16 and eventually worked for a Chinese studio photographer before being hired in 1958 at Drum, a picture magazine about black life. At that time he began a correspondence course from the New York Institute of Photography.

Cole was inspired by the American Civil Rights movement to document the horrors of apartheid in the hope of fomenting political action. In 1959 he began photographing black South African life. Under the hierarchical system of racial categorization in his home country, Cole was considered ‘black’, which greatly limited his access to spaces and events. However, Cole convinced the authorities that he was ‘Coloured’ (mixed race) and thereby increased his journalistic access. He hid his camera and disguised himself in order to document scenes that the authorities hoped to censor. In ...

Article

Ruth Rosengarten

(b Lourenço Marques, Mozambique, Feb 2, 1938; d Porto, Mar 29, 2011).

Portuguese painter. He studied at the Escola de Belas Artes in Oporto, where he taught from 1963. In the 1960s Ângelo worked in sculpture, photography and experimental cinema as well as painting. Having won a scholarship, he attended St Martin’s School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1967 to 1968.

In the 1960s he painted simplified motifs drawn from nature, applying the paint thinly but unevenly, thus allowing a certain luminosity to show through the brushstrokes from the ground beneath. More interested in the mechanisms of perception than in their objects, Ângelo dispensed with figurative references from 1970, and henceforth his paintings dealt with light and spatial ambiguity. The formats comprise large, luminous, monochromatic fields of colour, applied in transparent, modulated layers and are usually divided into a few large geometric shapes by fine, incisive dark lines.

B. F. Pinto de Almeida: Ângelo de Sousa...

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

Allison Moore

Nigerian photographer, active also in Britain. Fani-Kayode’s father was both a political leader in the Nigerian parliament and a chief (Balogun) of the city of Ife. He was descended from priests who cared for the shrines at Ife, the spiritual heartland of Yoruba culture. In ...

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

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

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

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

Allison Moore

(b Bamako, 1921/1923; d Paris, Nov 21, 2001).

Malian photographer. Seydou Keïta’s uncle gave him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie, in 1935. Keïta learned to develop and print from Pierre Garnier, a French colonial who opened the first studio in Bamako, Mali’s capital, and from Mountaga Dembélé, the first documented African studio photographer in Mali.

Keïta opened his own studio in 1948 near the train station in Bamako, a busy part of town that contributed to his popularity. Both local citizens and foreigners traveling through Mali commissioned portraits from Keïta. He began photographing outdoors in his courtyard, using his bedspread as a backdrop. He sometimes travelled to rural areas to take identity photographs required by the colonial government. He kept props, such as suit coats and fountain pens, which clients wore to look fashionable. Keïta’s portraits show distinctive West African clothing patterns against his own patterned backdrops, and capture the dignity of Africans encountering modernity under colonial rule, as seen in a seated portrait of an elegant woman half-turned to display her face and jewellery as well as the material of her dress (see fig.)....

Article

Lesley Spiro Cohen

(b Vrededorp, nr Johannesburg, Jan 18, 1932).

South African photographer. Encouraged by the South African photographer Bob Gosani (1935–72) and the writer Can Themba (1923–67), he began his professional career with Drum magazine, first as a driver and messenger and then as a darkroom technician and photographer. He received further guidance from Jürgen Schadeberg (b 1931). In the 1950s he covered many important political events, including conferences of the African National Congress (ANC), treason trials, and pass law demonstrations. In 1964–5 he worked in London and Boston, returning to South Africa in 1966 to work for the Rand Daily Mail. On several occasions he was subjected to police harassment and to periods of imprisonment, and in 1971 he was banned from practising photography for five years. When the order was lifted, he resumed work for the Rand Daily Mail. Coverage of the Soweto riots of 1976 earned him worldwide acclaim (e.g. ‘The coffins of thirty of the Sharpeville dead were buried side by side’, see ...

Article

Eric Gottesman

(b Johannesburg, 1959).

South African photographer. He studied psychology and African history at the University of Cape Town before becoming a photojournalist, covering African news and the end of apartheid in his native South Africa. In 1993 he began documenting the impact of the African HIV/AIDS epidemic. Eight years later he published A Broken Landscape: HIV & AIDS in Africa, including photographs that were some of the first visual documents of the epidemic. In addition to projects on politics and public health in Africa, he photographed discrimination against same-sex couples in the United States and undertook a major project investigating the global impact of climate change and flooding in his multimedia Drowning World. In Through Positive Eyes, Mendel employed a participatory approach in which people around the world with HIV made photographs of their own experiences. Like many of his contemporaries, Mendel straddled the line between Documentary photography and artistic imagery, showing his work in news publications as well as in galleries. As a result, some critics raised questions about whether his work exploited his subjects. Others saw his work as deeply empathetic and embodying positive, political activism. The recipient of many awards, including the W. Eugene Smith Grant, Mendel received acclaim in ...

Article

Allison Moore

(b Johannesburg, 1956).

South African photographer, writer, and curator. Mofokeng began his career as a street photographer in high school, but he lost his camera after two years. In 1981 he began working as a darkroom assistant at Die Beeld, a newspaper published in Afrikaans. There he observed the mainstream media’s treatment of violence against blacks. In 1985 he joined Afrapix, a photo agency and anti-apartheid collective of documentary photographers in South Africa. Mofokeng then worked for the Institute of Advanced Social Research (formerly the African Studies Institute) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Like David Goldblatt, an early mentor, Mofokeng avoided ‘breaking news’ photojournalism—images of violence known as ‘Struggle Photography’, espoused by Afrapix—and preferred a conceptual, nuanced, and often poetic approach to scenes of black life. His series Train Church (1986) documented the commute between the black township of Soweto and Johannesburg, the white city of employment, by focusing on the preachers and respondents who prayed on the trains. Mofokeng noted that the series captured two defining characteristics of life under apartheid: the dangerous commute caused by relocation and the persistence of spirituality....

Article

David Koloane

(b Durban, Aug 17, 1960).

South African photographer and painter. He graduated in Fine Arts from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town (UCT), in 1984 and received an advanced diploma in 1985. He was the first black African lecturer to be appointed to the UCT Fine Arts faculty (1984). He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and received his MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY (1989). His colourful paintings show interiors of houses, with large areas of colour making up the walls of the rooms. Mthethwa’s photographs from the mid-1990s depict ritual scenes and people inside shack settlements, and his pastel work encompasses decorative elements prevalent on traditional Zulu dress. Like his paintings, his photographs are colour-rich, with reds predominating. He originally used colour to attract people to his images and hold their gaze, but he also employed colour for its emotional impact; one colour may have multiple readings. His images are highly symbolic, both personally and socially. He is interested in the situations and surroundings in which people find themselves, and what they do within these contexts. Landscapes speak of contested ground, for instance, and label decoration for home-grown commercial products is featured and commented upon. Motifs such as tribal jewellery and clothing appear again and again. His works are held by the Durban Art Gallery, the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, and the Cape Department of Education. In ...