The first survey of the photographic landscape in contemporary Africa

Based on five years of exhibitions hosted by the LagosPhoto Festival, “Africa Under the Prism” beautifully documents contemporary photography in Africa.

Africa Under the Prism: Contemporary Photography from LagosPhoto Festival is a book published to document the works that have been exhibited at the LagosPhoto Festival in its five-year history. 

The first international art festival of photography in Nigeria, LagosPhoto Festival was initiated to tackle Afro-pessimism and the overrepresentation of Africa as the starving continent reliant on international aid. The festival fosters contemporary photography in Africa and the diaspora and has been praised for exhibiting more experimental and less documentary-style photography to present different African realities

Africa Under the Prism features works by photographers from Africa and abroad, but the book’s content spans the breadth of the continent. “It is easy to expect the book to be representative of Lagos, but it’s really a chronological sequence of the work we have done with the festival over the years, and not a book about Lagos,” the festival founder and director, Azu Nwagbogu told the New York Times blog.

The book features “Diamond Masters”, a rarely seen collection of photographs by Kadir van Lohuizen, which maps the diamond trade from Africa to luxe jewellery dealers outside of the continent. Other photographers in the volume include Mary Sibande’s striking “Long Live the Dead Queen,” a series of self-portraits that feature her dressed as a domestic worker in striking blue outfits against a white background, and Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai’s “State of the Nation”, a collection intended to explore aspects of a fabricated African state that has just been ravaged by conflict.

Published by Hatje Cantz, a firm that focuses on contemporary art photography, design, and architecture books, Africa Under the Prism is among the first thorough examinations of the kaleidoscope of contemporary photography in Africa.