Publisher Note

Since the invention of photography in the nineteenth century, Africa has been defined largely by Western images of its cultures and traditions. From the colonial carte de visite and ethnographic archive to the rise of studio portraiture and social documents of racial surveillance, the fraught relationship between Africa and the photographic lens has become inseparable from the discourses of post-colonialism.
Challenging these historical images of exoticism and otherness, this book illustrates how artists have used photography and video art to reimagine history and expand our understanding of contemporary realities.
Bringing together a diverse range of artists and thinkers to present perspectives on issues such as spirituality, urbanism and climate change, this book reveals the many ways images travel across time and geography, and how artists are redefining perceptions of the world we inhabit.

A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography brings together 36 artists who use photography to reimagine Africa’s place in the world. It is inspired by the continent’s rich cultural traditions, as well as present-day social and political realities. Drawing on the theories of Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe (born 1957), the exhibition and book invite us to imagine ‘a world in common’. To do this, Mbembe claims, we must ‘think the world from Africa’. A World in Common explores Africa’s past, present and future to create a more expansive and inclusive narrative of humanity. It suggests that to conceive ‘a world in common’ is to imagine a future of possibility.
There is no single, definitive history of Africa. It is a continent of multiple, interconnected realities. Pushing the boundaries of photography and film, the artists in A World in Common confront reductive representations of African peoples and cultures. They address photography’s past and embrace its potential to reframe the present and shape tomorrow.
The exhibition and book are divided into three chapters: Identity and Tradition, Counter Histories and Imagined Futures. The first chapter is rooted in ancient African cultures and traditions which have survived periods of struggle and resistance. Inspired by Pan-African liberation movements, the second chapter looks at photography’s ability to produce counter histories - archival practices and the agency of photographer and subject are brought into focus. The third chapter explores the impact of globalisation and the climate emergency. Here, artists imagine a shared future informed by common realities.

Published on the occasion of the 2023/24 exhibition at Tate Modern, London.

Artists: Kudznai Chiurai, Zohra Opoku, George Osodi, Em’kal Eyongakpa, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Moimouna Guerresi, Khadija Saye, Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Kelani Abass, Atong Atem, James Barnor, Hassan Hajjaj, Lebohang Kganye, Lazhar Mansouri, Sabelo Mlangeni, Santu Mofokeng, Ruth Ginika Ossai, Malala Andrialavidrazana, Sammy Baloji, Ndidi Dike, Samson Kambalu, Delio Jasse, Andrew Esiebo, François-Xavier Gbré, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Kiripi Katembo, Cristina de Middel, Julianknxx, Mario Macilau, Fabrice Monteiro, Aïda Muluneh, Dawit L. Petros, Léonard Pongo

Exhibition Catalogue

A World in Common

— Contemporary African Photography

Various Artists

edited by Osei Bonsu

Release Place London, United Kingdom
Edition 1st edition
Release Date 2023
Editor: Osei Bonsu
Artist: Various Artists
ISBN-13: 978-1849768528
Topics African Photography, Contemporary Photography
Language English
Format Hardcover
Dimensions 16.9 × 25.2 cm
Pages 240