Announced last week, Al Jazeera English has now premiered its new 6-episode series on Artscape, titled The New African Photography, which documents changes across the continent through the eyes of its photographers, in an effort to "take back control" of images of Africa with more nuanced, varied depictions of the continent, instead of the extremes we often get.
Expect nods to pioneers like Malick Sidibé and autodidact Seydou Keïta.
The first of six episodes (one of which was executive produced by Viva Riva director Djo Munga) premiered on April 22, and is available to watch online. Titled Invisible Borders, I've embedded it below for you to check out. It's 25 minutes long.
Al Jazeera will release an episode every week, with episode 2 coming on April 29.
1. Invisible Borders (22 April 2013)
Nigerian Emeka Okereke is the founder of Invisible Borders, an annual photographic project that takes African artists on a road trip across the continent. Invisible Borders follows Emeka and fellow Nigerian photographer Lilian Novo on the most recent journey, from Nigeria through Cameroon and Gabon. Emeka says, “Everywhere we go in Africa, we see our generation talking about doing things for themselves. This is the time to actually go in and experiment.”
2. The Red Dress (29 April 2013)
Barbara Minishi is a leading fashion photographer in Kenya. For her latest project, Barbara swapped skinny models for normal people, photographing a wide range of women all wearing the same red dress, as a symbol of unity and national identity in the aftermath of the 2007 post-election violence in which more than 1 000 Kenyans were killed.
Nigerian George Osodi is a former Fuji African Photographer of The Year Award winner who’s also been shortlisted at the SonyWorld Photography Awards. He’s renowned for his hauntingly beautiful pictures of the oil devastation in the Niger delta. “I think it’s my responsibility as the man with the camera to find a way to represent this [situation], so that it becomes appealing to whoever sees it. At first sight you’re like, ‘What a beauty,’ but then behind it is a huge Armageddon.” He hopes his latest project, in which he photographs Nigeria’s traditional monarchs, can offer a more positive way forward.
South African Neo Ntsoma is the first woman recipient of the CNN African Journalist Award for photography. She revisits DJ Cleo and the stars of South Africa’s new democratic dawn, to take new portraits and discover the effects of 20 years of freedom. Neo moved away from news because she didn’t want to reinforce African stereotypes. “My dream was to be an advertising photographer and take pictures of beautiful things. Black people feeling good about themselves, dressed well. But it was a picture that the apartheid regime didn’t want to show to the world. They wanted to paint black people as barbarians.”
Executive produced by Viva Riva director Djo Munga, Congolese Dreams follows photographer Baudouin Mouanda as he explores the idea of marriage in Congo. The Congolese photographer burst onto the global photographic scene with his colorful photographs of Brazzaville members of SAPE (The Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People). As Baudoin says, “Africa will surprise everyone. There are lots of images of war, so I want to show another image of Africa.”
Emmy-winning documentary director Francois Verster follows former street child Mario Macilau, as he uses photography to investigate the growing gap between rich and poor in Mozambique. “There is no longer a middle class in our country,” says Mario.
For more information, keep an eye on http://www.aljazeera.com/