Forming part of the Summer of Photography 2010, the exhibition entitled A Useful Dream celebrates fifty years of African photography and the building of collective identities in post-colonial Africa . It gives a general picture of present-day photography in Africa . Up to the late 20th century, the West had a monopoly in Africa on the view and hence definition of the world. The images from the colonial period deliberately focused on reducing this other part of humanity, in its entirety, to cosy stereotypes, accentuating the different and the exotic.
In most African countries, independence signified economic, political and historical liberation. Decolonised people reclaimed their own take on the world. They had to learn to stop seeing themselves with western eyes, take ownership of a self-contemplation and give meaning to the picture, which boils down to giving meaning to themselves.
Photography is undoubtedly the best conceivable medium in this process of emancipation and rewriting ones own history. This lies at the heart of the artistic work of todays contemporary photographers brought together in this exhibition. From the 60s up to the present day, they have conceived their very own version of the African identity, increasingly distanced from the established western models and increasingly linked to their own cultural and aesthetic codes.
The exhibition at the Centre for Fine Arts
was designed by Simon Njami, director of the Africa Remix exhibition held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2005.