Hybrid Cities exhibition considers photography centered on the African metropolis as a site of rapid social transformation. Of the largest cities in Africa, three—Lagos, Cairo, and Kinshasa—can be classed as “megacities”, conurbations with a population of over 10 million. That number is set to double by 2030. Amid such rapid urbanization, characterized by ceaseless flows of people, goods, and capital, a state of permanent change reigns.
The works in Hybrid Cities document the African city engaged at a point of unprecedented acceleration, revealing both the tensions and possibilities of that condition. The apparent chaos of crowded streets resolves itself into unexpected forms of pattern and color. Against a backdrop of uncertain infrastructure and sometimes poor social provision, men and women organize their lives and labor on their own terms, establishing affinities that flourish and thrive even under duress.
EKOW ESHUN curated both the exhibition and the book AFRICA STATE OF MIND published by Thomas &Hudson.
The book gathers together the work of an emergent generation of photographers from across Africa, including both the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. It is both a summation of new photographic practice from the last decade and an exploration of how contemporary photographers from the continent are exploring ideas of ‘Africanness’ to reveal Africa to be a psychological space as much as a physical territory – a state of mind as much as a geographical place.
Dispensing with the western colonial view of Africa in purely geographic or topographic terms, Ekow Eshun presents Africa State of Mind in four thematic parts: Hybrid Cities; Inner Landscapes; Zones of Freedom; and Myth and Memory. Each theme, introduced by a text by Eshun, presents selections of work by a new wave of African photographers who are looking both outward and inward: capturing life among the sprawling cities and multitudinous conurbations of the continent, turning the legacy of the continent’s history into the source of resonant new myths and dreamscapes and exploring questions of gender, sexuality and identity. Each of the photographers seeks to capture the experience of what it means, and how it feels, to live in Africa today.
AFRICA STATE OF MIND: HYBRID CITIES
4 JULY – 26 SEPTEMBER 2021
LE JARDIN DES VOYAGEURS
Les Rencontres D’arles