Africa and the African diaspora

by Mark Sealy

African and African Diasporic photography at PHOTO 2021 represents a powerful and dynamic visual cosmology that spans notions of time, place and history. The artists and exhibitions presented here offer audiences new opportunities to travel intellectually beyond the mundane and the familiar and to move both conceptually and spiritually into the realm of new visual possibilities and political conjunctures that openly engage with both old and new knowledge formations.


Emmanuelle Andrianjafy’s photographs encourage and stimulate processes of thought that concern alienation and migration. Her work encourages us to look with openness across space that is both unknown and unfamiliar. Atong Atem’s praxis is also embedded in forensic dialogue with photography’s past and the navigation of its future possibilities in the making of new identities. Her work keeps open a cultural portal in which to discuss the application of photography as a tool for self-determination, remaking histories and visual forms of resistance.


Zanele Muholi is presented through two key bodies of work that are joined through Muholi’s work as a visual activist. In Faces and Phases Muholi builds an incredible defiant textual and photographic archive of subjects who live—because of their sexuality—under the threat of death every day. Through the incredibly articulate series Somnyama Ngonyama (‘Hail the Dark Lioness’) the viewer is taken on a fantastic voyage through the difficult terrains of racism, environmental concerns and the matrix of colonialities that haunt the now. These two projects highlight the fact that Muholi is one of the most important artists working today.


Visual activism also underpins the exhibition titled The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion. The curator, Antwaun Sargent has gathered a galaxy of bright stars that arc across, over and through the worlds of Fashion and its relationship to representational politics. The idea of a black homogeneity here is imploded revealing luminous frontiers of black visibility that seductively point the way to the prospect of new and exciting visual pathways that invite us to follow, support and ultimately embrace.



—Mark Sealy, Director, Autograph ABP, London

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Founding Partners
  • Bowness Family Foundation
  • Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Major Government Partners
  • City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program
  • Creative Victoria
Major Partners
  • Maddocks

PHOTO Australia respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we work and live, and the rich and diverse Indigenous cultures across what is now called Australia. For over 60,000 years, Indigenous arts and culture have thrived on this sacred land, and we honour Elders and cultural leaders past and present. This was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

01–24 March