Almost 250 people came out for the opening of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery‘s latest exhibition, Possible Cities: Africa in Photography and Video, on Friday night. The exhibit, which was curated by Ruti Talmor, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and a visiting professor of anthropology, explores the pasts and futures of the globe’s second largest continent through the work of six artists who show the cosmopolitan side of Africa in their work.
The images in the show–from Pieter Hugo’s Nollywood photos, which feature staged representations of Nigerian film characters, to Salem Mekuria’s video triptych Square Stories, which explores the history of Maskal Square in Addis Ababa–are affecting not just because they tell African stories beyond those usually shown on the evening news or in a National Geographic spread, but also because they teach us something, in general, about rapid urbanization on a global level.
Other works in the exhibit include pieces from Sammy Baloji’s Memoire series of photo and video installations of his hometown, Lubambashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo; photos from two series by Sabelo Mlangeni, Invisible Women and Men Only; a Kenyan-shot performance art video by the artistic team of IngridMwangiRobertHutter; and Guy Tillim’s Avenue Patrice Lumumba series, in which he revisits sites he previously shot as a photojournalist.
“What excites me about this exhibition is that it brings together work that, on the surface, looks like it all belongs in the same place,” says John Muse, visiting assistant professor of comparative literature and John B. Hurford ’60 Humanities Center exhibitions program faculty liaison, “but if you look carefully, you’ll see work that is all about the artifices of place and of bodies performing … and then more traditional documentary work where all the spaces and surfaces are really there as you see them.” The show, Muse says, challenges viewers to find the connections among these diverse representations of urban Africa.
Possible Cities runs in the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery through April 29.
(All photos by Lisa Boughter)