AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Author Archive

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Thursday, December 5th, 2013

The Book of North African Literature: Pierre Joris on Poetry and Miscegenation

A 743-page anthology of North African literature was published by the University of California last year. Ranging from documents made in sixth century Carthage to experimental prose published months after the 2011 uprisings, the Book of North African Literature is the fourth installment in the Poems for the Millenium, a series initiated in 1995 by Pierre

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Controversy surrounding the National Theatre in Lagos

The National Arts Theatre is visible from the motorway system which connects Lagos Island and the mainland: an iconic modern structure which rises, it is often noted, like the peak of a military cap from the surrounding...

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Zambian skull found in London art gallery

Discovered in 1921 in Broken Hill, Northern Rhodesia (now Kabwe, Zambia), the original skull resides in the National History Museum in London, who made this replica for the Lusaka National Museum. The skull, also called the Kabwe...

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Restaging the Death of Patrice Lumumba

In the central public park of Fort-de-France, capital of Martinique, stands a statue of Empress Joséphine, who grew up on a sugar plantation to the south of the island. Her stone head has been hacked off, in...

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

How to text someone you love: An interview with Temitayo Ogunbiyi

‘The Fountain of Love’, a painting by Honoré Fragonard, offers a vision of a moment in history when the aristocratic taste for luxury reflects the imminence of revolution. The rococo masterpiece is part of a collection of European...

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

How to Paint Ghosts: An Interview with Ivorian artist Aboudia

“Artists don’t create reality they make phantasms”, using a kind of “fantastical technique to produce an artificial dream for the waking world”. At least that’s what Plato thought. In the paintings of Aboudia, we cannot be sure if the...

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Egyptian Graffiti and Gender Politics: An Interview with Soraya Morayef

Mickey Mouse is pulling apart a bomb: inside is the torso of George W. Bush, and they’re both looking perfectly happy about the whole thing. Soraya Morayef is taking a photo of the wall where these figures...

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Your Camera is Not a Toy: Photographing “Children From Around the World”

In 1995 Dorling Kinderlsey published a book, Children Just Like Us, sponsored by UNICEF, which brought pictures of children from “all over the world” into its pages, complete with facts and apparently direct quotations from the children...

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Philosophy and Dancing Outside the European Tradition

A couple of weeks ago Hamid Dabashi’s article “Can Non-Europeans Think?” was making the usual hype motions on the web. The New York-based Iranian professor took righteous offense at Santiago Zambala’s list of the “important and active philosophers today,” which...

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Africa and the Biennial: Regard Benin

In Africa “biennials are a difficult idea, conceptually as well as financially, to implement and sustain,” Sean O’Toole wrote recently in Frieze. The first Biennale in Lubumbashi in the DRC — being organised by Sammy Baloji, Patrick Mudekereza...

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Should Mohamed Morsi be TIME’s Person of the Year?

Last week, as he made a bid to become Egypt’s latest dictator, plunging the country into a constitutional crisis, and drawing new crowds to Tahrir Square, TIME magazine interviewed Mohamed Morsi. The ‘exclusive’ interview took the title...

Monday, November 19th, 2012

French-Algerian sculptor Rachid Khimoune exhibits in New York City

Rachid Khimoune grew up in a small mining town in Northern France where his Algerian parents had settled. It was there that he saw first hand the end of industrialisation: his father lost his job at the local...

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Revolutions and Dancing

In Egypt earlier this year I was taken by my host to a nightclub in downtown Cairo where I was introduced to a cosmopolitan group of friends — musicians, artists, poets — all drinking beer and dancing...

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Hassan Hajjaj’s Rockstars

Hassan Hajjaj’s first memories of photography are from his childhood in Morocco. His mother would occasionally dress him in clothes sent from his father in England, cover him in perfume and take the whole family to the...

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Kehinde Wiley goes to Israel

Kehinde Wiley has seemed unstoppable. In the last five years, the artist has gathered praise from all over the place, established a high price for this work, and developed a highly distinctive style. His wildly ambitious World Stage series,...

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Kaleidoscope goes to Africa

The summer issue of Kaleidoscope, a contemporary art magazine based in Milan, is devoted to ‘art and culture produced in (or related to) the African continent today.’ It’s full of good stuff. Many of the artists we’ve...

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Africa Utopia and London’s “Festival of the World with Mastercard”

The London Olympics starts tonight and certain streets of the city are swollen with purple-shirted volunteers, track-suited athletes and tourists. In Hyde Park, the continent of Africa has been reincarnated as ‘Africa Village’ and ‘Africa Land'; the emphasis...

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Bathers at Sea Point: Photographs by Antoinette Engel

Antoinette Engel, a documentary filmmaker and photographer based in Cape Town (and a friend of this blog) took these images of bathers at Sea Point last year. We found them on the 75 photography website and asked to see...

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

The Photographs of Mary Beth Meehan

In his 2009 anatomy of the financial crisis, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce, Slavoj Žižek noted that ‘it is a sign of the maturity of the US public that there have been no traces of anti-Semitism in...

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Gaddafi Archives at the London Photography Festival

The ‘Gaddafi Archives – Libya Before the Arab Spring’, which opened this week at the London Festival of Photography is an embarrassment of riches. This exhibition of images recovered from the remains of Gaddafi’s archives and rephotographed...

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

A Room Adrift in London

Here in London we have been having a lot of trouble with pageants. After the riots last August, the state is hoping that summer plans – the Olympics, the Hackney festival – will be distraction from the...

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Steve Bloom photographs 1970s Cape Town

The London Festival of Photography has opened, and one of its most appealing features is an exhibition of images by Steve Bloom – Beneath the Surface – a unique document of South African life in the 1970s....

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Pieter Hugo on ‘political correctness’

Pieter Hugo, the critically acclaimed South African photographer, has done an interview with Guernica (H/T Glenna Gordon) in which he seems to be taking issue with criticisms of his work, especially the “Nollywood” series: “It’s quite scary when academics start...

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

My favorite photographs N°3: Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann

Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann, a photographer and filmmaker working in her hometown, Nairobi, is our latest guest for our series where we ask photographers to pick their favorite shots from their own portfolio . She was born in Bonn,...

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Egypt after Edward Said

Last December, when the Institut d’Egypte was burned down, I thought immediately of Edward Said. Napoleon’s expedition to Europe is described at the beginning of Orientalism, where it is a classic example of how academic and scientific discoveries...

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Where is contemporary African art? Not at Bonhams

Bonhams must have employed some jokers to publicise their latest attempt to cash in on the buoyancy of contemporary African art in the global art market. The London auction house (est. 1793), which merged with rivals Phillips...

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

‘Afropolitan Divas’ in London

The second Numbi of 2012 happened – with undeniable flamboyance – last Saturday, bringing a team of ‘Afropolitan divas’, and with them an influx of poetry and music from East Africa and elsewhere, to East London.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Achille Mbembe at the Tate Modern

The moderator received a text which said that the political philosopher was trying to find an internet café, then another saying Mbembe was trying to find an internet café with Skype, then another saying that he was...

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Coca-Cola can’t copyright colour: the art of Sokari Douglas Camp

"Coca-Cola Bird" stands facing the corner of the gallery, half-turned towards us in surprise or exhibition, oily red paint spun across the bucket cocked over her head, the same brash color on the feathered tutu winding around...

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Africa as Science Fiction

Since Sun Ra descended in a breast-shaped Ark to recruit Americans for his planetary Afrotopia, science fiction has played a significant role in representations of African life. The original past represented by Africa as ‘cradle-of-civilization’ has recently...

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