Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Images from today’s Africa. The National Gallery of Canada presents Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography

Ottawa - October 10, 2007

The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) is proud to present, exclusively in Canada, the exhibition Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography, featuring over 165 works by 40 acclaimed artists from a dozen African countries. Organized by the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City, the exhibition will open on Friday, 12 October, and continue until Sunday, 6 January 2008, inclusive.

“We are thrilled to host Snap Judgments,” said the director of the National Gallery of Canada, Pierre Théberge. “The works presented reveal the diversity and vitality of artistic responses by African artists to contemporary art practice and the many changes that are causing economic, social, and cultural upheavals in today’s Africa.”

Photography has maintained a vital presence in African culture for over a century. However, African photography has changed dramatically in the last decade, exerting an increasing influence on contemporary African art. The works in Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography – most of which were made in 2005–06 – move beyond both African and Western influences to experiment with and explore new aesthetic territories. Snap Judgments probes four recurring themes in contemporary African photography: Landscape, Urban Life, The Body and Identity, and History and Representation. The exhibition features photographic works, multimedia installations, and documentation of performance art.

Views of Daily Life in Africa
“When Western photography engages Africa, it seems often to evoke pathological images of disease, corruption, and poverty,” commented Okwui Enwezor, guest curator of the exhibition. “The global media almost never depict contemporary Africans in ordinary situations; images of crisis frequently eclipse other representations. Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography forces a recognition of the contradictory and varied forms of photographic practice that are now arising across Africa. “Snap Judgments brings together some of the most forceful propositions by contemporary artists and photographers on how to look at Africa,” Enwezor continued. “In so doing, it seeks to demonstrate how artists can use photography as a tool to trace the arc of different social realities. By posing pertinent questions about the role of images in African public narratives, the exhibition opens the way to unexpected and penetrating insights into a rapidly changing social dynamic.”

This exhibition was organized by the International Center of Photography with lead support from Altria Group, Inc., and the ICP Exhibitions Committee. Additional funding was generously provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Christian K. Keesee, Roberta and Steven Denning, Eni S.p.A., Marjorie G. and Jeffrey A. Rosen, Artur Walther, the Association Française d’Action Artistique, Robert Scully and Nancy Peretsman, Meryl and Robert Meltzer, Andrew and Marina Lewin, Jane K. Lombard, the Prince Claus Fund, the Government of Flanders, the Mondriaan Foundation, Pamela and Arthur Sanders, and the British Council. Support for the exhibition catalogue has been provided by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

A catalogue by curator Okwui Enwezor accompanies the exhibition. Published by ICP and Steidl Verlag, the 383-page colour publication includes 250 plates, a critical essay by Enwezor, commentaries on the works presented in the exhibition, and biographies of the artists. On sale at the National Gallery of Canada Bookstore for $78 plus taxes, and on www.shopngc.ca/, the Gallery’s online store.

In conjunction with the exhibition, three activities will take place in October and November. On Saturday, 13 October, at 2 p.m., Okwui Enwezor, curator of the exhibition and author of the accompanying catalogue, will discuss the range of photo-based artistic statements being made across Africa. On Thursday, 15 November, from 7 to 11 p.m., young adults will have the chance to groove to African beats and explore the medium of video during the Artsparks workshop. Finally, on Sunday, 18 November, art enthusiasts will have an opportunity to meet two African photographers, Jo Ractliffe and Mohamed Camara, as they discuss their work in the context of the exhibition. For locations and entry fees for these activities, visit www.national.gallery.ca/.

Admission and NGC hours
Tickets are now on sale at $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and full-time students, $6 for youths aged 12 to 19 years, and $24 for families (two adults and three children). Admission is free of charge for children under 12 and for Friends of the Gallery. Tickets are available by telephone at 1-888-541-8888 and at www.shopngc.ca/.

The NGC is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm, and Thursdays until 8 pm Open at noon on Remembrance Day. Open on 24 and 31 December. Closed on 25 December and 1 January.

Okwui Enwezor, Guest Curator
The guest curator of this exhibition is Okwui Enwezor. The Nigerian-born Enwezor is adjunct curator at the ICP and Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at the San Francisco Art Institute.


Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada

Scott Patterson
Chief, Marketing and communications
National Gallery of Canada