An exhibition showcases the works of three photographers who capture the chaos of a rapidly urbanizing continent.
A new exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art showcases three photographers who’ve made the transformation of African cities the central theme in their work. “They compel us to think about African cities in intriguing ways, juxtaposing one period of time against another, documenting daily life in the context of sprawling growth and often with an acute awareness of potential loss or threat,” Peter Barberie, the Brodsky Curator of Photographs at the museum, said in a statement.
Each photographer has ties to Africa and a distinct approach. Akinbode Akinbiyi is Nigerian and British. His images capture the buzz of cities like Cairo and Lagos: buses brimming with passengers (pictured above), streets cluttered with signage and commerce, and the flurry of purposeful bodies in motion. Akinbiyi’s work is packed with clues about the direction in which these cities are headed. But that’s an unintended consequence of the way he experiences each city. As he told the Goethe Institut in 2013:
I am not a flâneur in Baudelaire´s sense, nor do I attempt to observe urban life as an anthropologist – instead, I move with the flow of the movements that naturally occur in these cities. I don´t let myself get carried away by these flows however; but try to be aware of them.