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Shifting Views: People & Politics in Contemporary African Art

From December 18, 2016 — December 3, 2017

The BMA’s first exhibition of contemporary art from Africa drawn from its own collection features photographs, prints, and drawings by David Goldblatt, Gavin Jantjes, William Kentridge, Julie Mehretu, Senam Okudzeto, Robin Rhode, and Diane Victor. Each artist offers pointedly political perspectives on the lives of Africans and their diasporic descendants.

Examples include two series of prints: Kentridge’s Industry & Idleness (1986-87), a critique of capitalism inspired by a suite of the same name by famed political satirist William Hogarth (English 1697-1764), and Mehretu’s Landscape Allegories (2003-04), etchings that mark the journeys of migrants and underscore the environmental effects of late-stage capitalism. Capitalism is more quietly confronted in a 1970 photograph of singer Margaret Singana taken by Goldblatt while on assignment for Anglo American, a major gold mining company. Okudzeto’s Fragment from the series All Facts Have Been Changed to Protect the Ignorant (2000-01) remind us of early capitalist drives that fueled the trade of Africans into slavery and Jantjes’ canonical A South African Colouring Book (1974-75) skewers apartheid-era surveillance and racist realities. In works from 2009 and 2010, Rhode’s Pan's Opticon Studies and Victor’s Smokescreen (Frailty and Failing) focus on individuals captured or lost in societies that either closely monitor movement of people deemed suspicious or blithely forget those with histories deemed too troubling.

Curated by

The exhibition is curated by Shannen Hill, Associate Curator for African Arts, with Kevin Tervala, Former Curatorial Fellow in the Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia & the Pacific Islands

A print of four circles, two larger than the others. Two contorted human figures are superimposed on the larger circles.

Senam Okudzeto. Fragment from the series All Facts Have Been Changed to Protect the Ignorant. 2000-01. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Nathan L. and Suzanne F. Cohen Contemporary Art Endowment