• African photography that is published in the West tends to propagate a narrow, clichéd vision of the continent
• Our exhibition is a response to this and a starting point for a new type of representation.
MASK and Afrikan Gallery have come together to launch their first joint online exhibition, The Visual Tapestry, https://www.viewingroom.co.uk, highlighting an array of incredibly talented photographers from Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
MASK presents three artists, the former MASK Awards winners: Margaret Ngigi, Staice Shitanda, and Louis Nderi from Kenya. Other artists exhibiting are: James Ikpe and Adebisi Sulaimon Adewale from Nigeria, Kidus Tesfaye from Ethiopia, Tommie Ominde from Kenya, and Hans Charlz from Tanzania.
All of the artists featured are under the age of 30 and document their lived experiences in Africa. Adebisi Adewale [aka Waleadebisi], digitally manipulates his urban backdrop to create a blurred canvas against which his human subjects stand in striking silhouette.
In contrast, Ethiopian photographer Kidus Tesfaye [aka Kidtek] and Kenyan Tommie Ominde reveal the transcendental beauty of the East African coast. We then glimpse a rare, unfiltered insight into traditional ways of life in rural localities across Kenya and Tanzania, respectively, through the work of Louis Nderi and Hans Charlz.
These artists foreground the oft-overlooked contributions of women and children to their communities, an issue that is equally central to the practice of Margaret Ngigi. To this effect, her series Murky Waters, shot at Lake Magadi in Kenya, seeks to highlight the continued oppression and suppression of women in contemporary society.
Such aspects of sociopolitical commentary run throughout this exhibition, concurrent to and informing the celebrations of African beauty, as encapsulated by the work of Kenyan photographer Staice Shitanda [aka Shitanda] in her powerful portraiture series, ‘Black’.
MASK and Afrikan Gallery are dedicated to creating opportunities for artists from underrepresented communities, with a particular focus on connecting African artists to wider audiences across the world.
African photography that is published in the West tends to propagate a narrow, clichéd vision of the continent as one unvariegated entity, often through the lens of ethnography, safari shots or images intended to invoke international sympathy. Our exhibition is a response to this and a starting point for a new type of representation.
Art should be for everyone. And the digital era has been a great equaliser that enables people to truly push geographical boundaries. MASK, therefore, partnered with a new online exhibition platform, The Viewing Room, removing traditional logistical and financial barriers to entry for both artists and a new generation of art-buyers.
MASK was founded in 2007, pioneering creativity and innovation training in Kenyan schools. Its pan-African MASK Awards, partnered by the Star and Citizen TV, have encouraged hundreds of young people to realise their creative potential.
Other partners are Rivers Foundation (UK), The Nobelity Project (USA), Unilever (EA), Trademark Hotel, Chandaria Foundation and Mabati Rolling Mills (Kenya). Rewards include cash prizes, paid internships and international exhibitions.
MASK is a UK registered charity No 1128734. Links: mobileartschoolinkenya.org / @maskcreativity / facebook.com/MASKCreativity
Afrikan Gallery was conceived to start a dialogue between African photographers and highlight their talents to the world at large. It has 1.2 million followers on Facebook, and over 20,000 on Instagram. Links: afrikan-gallery.org/ / @afrikangallery / facebook.com/afrikangallery
You can see and buy the artworks on https://www.viewingroom.co.uk until 7 August 2020.
Alla Tkachuk is a Founder of MASK and MASK Awards. To donate to MASK charity or become a partner of MASK Awards, please contact Alla on [email protected]