New York

Hala Elkoussy, Peripheral Landscape #5, Al Warraq, 2004, ink-jet print on vinyl, dimensions variable.

“Snap Judgments”

International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)

AFRICA AND PHOTOGRAPHY have a tangled history. Can the medium that has depicted Africa for the West since the moment of the camera’s invention, during the colonialism of the nineteenth century, escape this troubled past? The thesis of “Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography” was that this possibility exists not only in theory but in practice among contemporary African artists, who are all too often ignored beyond their homelands. In his impressive introduction to the catalogue, curator Okwui Enwezor states that Western photographic depictions have either aestheticized and exoticized Africa (he cites the work of Leni Riefenstahl and Peter Beard) or represented it as a place imprisoned in a never-ending cycle of famine and political mayhem. “Afro-pessimism” is Enwezor’s term for imagery of the last category, typified by Kevin Carter’s ghastly 1993 photograph of a

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