The internationality of a collection to which photos from every corner of the world are constantly added. Now it is the turn of Africa and the Middle East, amid conflicts, landscapes, intense focus, fotoreportage…
Breaking news: why in certain areas of the world, where peace is a distant dream, news bulletins only emphasise the conflict, diplomatic talks, the topical events.
A thought-provoking title, because the Modena exhibition is not concerned exclusively with war fotoreportage, but which is the only one to have a strong connection with all three macro-areas in question, namely, the Middle East, the Gulf of Guinea, South Africa, from which the 21 photographers were selected. If in fact those regions are forever on the brink of waging a religious, tribal, race – or boundary-motivated war, it is also true we often forget that people live there, and those people are interested in the creativity of art and photography.
And that is why the team of young people led by Filippo Maggia have gone and unearthed the most representative artists of those countries we think of as too far away from us. They have then set up an exhibition with a harsh tone, unsettling and kitsch, were Jodi Bieber’s black and white photographs of Johannesburg’s suburbs are shown next to the perfect images of Daniel Naude’s African dogs, and the violent pictures of oil drilling in the Niger Delta by George Osodi hang alongside Philip Kwame Apagya’s portraits painted on brightly-coloured “western” backgrounds.
An African that can also be ironic, as in the case of Goddy Leye’s video “We are the world” where the protagonist gorges himself with fruit while singing the song epitome of Western support to the African continent. There is a substantial group of Middle Eastern artists, and at the centre of the exhibition is the Israelo-Palestinian conflict, represented from different standpoints a rotoscope video interview by Wael Shawky focused on the resistance put up in the Palestinian refugee camps, the series “Trackers” showing images of Bedouin shepherds volunteering in the Isreaeli Army, the “Wathtowers” by Taysir Betniji who look like water tanks while in fact having a military purpose, Yael Bartana’s video that is perhaps the
only piece of work on show with a slightly rhetorical flavour.
So many works, many artists, but most importantly different methods, which takes you outside the boundaries of the Western world and is well worth an attentive viewing. It takes time to understand and assimilate the great variety of images that will give you food for thought long after you have left the former Sant’Agostino Hospital. Because images, when now accompanied by the usual explanatory press news, can become – as in this case – a most effective instrument of insight into the so-called “other parts of the world”.
By Marta Santacatterina
Until 13 March 2011
Breaking News – contemporary photography from the Middle East and Africa
curated by Filippo Maggia
Ex Hospital of Saint Augustine