Drawing from archival imagery and documents, interviews with the photographers and filmmakers (in some cases family members and/ or close associates), and with contributions from writers, scholars, and curators, The African Gaze is a mapping of and an introduction to the postcolonial African moving and still image.
In The African Gaze, based on the university course of the same title, author Amy Sall looks at ways in which artistic expression in photography and cinema engendered discourses concerning identity, power, and self-determination.
Colonial photography deprived Africans of agency, rendered them voiceless, and classified them as subaltern. In colonial photography, African people were subjected to a physical positioning and gaze which took away their autonomy and allowed western viewers to perceive them as primitive. African photographers and filmmakers from just before independence and onward (and in some cases even earlier), were able to reclaim this power and allow their communities to see themselves as they were, and explore their social, economic, and political conditions from their own perspective.
This is a timely publication as engagement with Black and African histories is stronger than ever before (and long overdue). The major names of African photography, such as Malick Sidibé, Sanlé Sory, and Seydou Keita have become highly collectible in the art market and African cinema, pioneered by Ousmane Sembene in 1960s Senegal, is now recognized for its creative innovation and storytelling.
Amy Sall is founder and editor-in-chief of SUNU: Journal of African Affairs, Critical Thought + Aesthetics (SUNU Journal), a Pan-African, postdisciplinary platform seeking to amplify emerging voices and perspectives on matters and ideas concerning Africa and the diaspora.