contemporary african photography


Maki Oh, SS18


Maki Oh returns to childhood in 1995 Lagos, where the privilege of youth washed out the sound of harder times. In recognition of ones impotence in the difficult times in which we find ourselves today, exuberance is favoured over apathy as a form of rebellion. The collection reflects the colour, pragmatism and the effervescence of a Lagosian childhood…games like Ayo, Change Your Style, and those improvised in the classroom: notes passed under desks and cheeky words spelt on calculator screens by inverting them - 58008. The uniform of birthday parties, festive occasions and Sunday dress which were referred to as ‘Aunty Give Me Cake Dresses’ are marked in the collection with bulky, layered tulle in blush pinks and nudes. Whilst the unbridled sense of freedom in playing dress up in parents’ closets are present in oversized silhouettes and light wool blend suiting. Traditional Nigerian dying technique adiré features lines from ‘suwe’- a hopscotch type game often marked out with a stick and played in sand. As well as stars and crescent shapes inspired by Tales By Moonlight - a show aired on national television in the 90’s that featured didactic fables told to groups of children by an elder under a mango tree.

We’re saddened by the loss of artist Malick Sidibé, a chronicler of life in post-independence Mali. His photograph Look at Me! is on view now on the fourth floor as part of From the Collection: 1960–1969.

[Malick Sidibé. Look at Me! 1962. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2016 Malick Sidibé]
Reclaiming the Photographic Narrative of African-Americans
A new issue of Aperture magazine explores images of African-Americans that not only challenge long-held narratives about race, but also redefine them.
By James Estrin

MoMA collection artists Lyle Ashton Harris, Lorna Simpson, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and others are featured in “Vision and Justice,” a special issue of Aperture magazine guest edited by Sarah Lewis addressing the role of photography in the African American experience. Read more about it via The New York Times’s Lens blog.