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July 6, 2023 - January 14, 2024

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 invites 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 is 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. A World in Common creates space for exchange and discovery, inviting us to imagine new ways of inhabiting the earth.

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

Cover Art: Aida Muluneh Water Life Series, Star Shine, Moon Glow 2018 commissioned by WaterAid and supported by the H&M Foundation © Aida Muluneh


Tate Modern
53 Bankside
Bankside, London SE1 9TG United Kingdom
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