A new exhibit at Li-Space in Beijing’s Caochangdi district aims to refashion the traditional visual impression of Africa – that of famine, war and poverty – through images that show a continent of culture, hope, imagination and dreams. “Africa: See You, See Me!” features the work of 36 African and non-African photographers, including Angele Etoundi Essamba from Cameroon, Moroccan Majida Khattari and Italian Marco Ambrosi.
China, which has a growing business presence in Africa, seemed an important place to display the photographs, said Awam Amkpa, the exhibition’s curator, who described the images in the show as an illustration of “how Africans want to be seen rather than how they are forced to be seen.”
The Chinese “don’t know the diversity, the robustness of African culture,” Mr. Amkpa, a Nigerian, said. “I think it is an opportunity for us to show this Africa that is a very modern and diverse continent…. We are not always at war. We are not always starving.” The exhibition is arranged with images from contemporary Africa that lead back in time to works done by early African photographers in the middle of the 20th century. Mr. Amkpa, who is based in New York, said this flow is intended to provide audiences with a glimpse of how far African photography has come since it emerged in the 1950s.