Martin Barnes – Senior Curator Photographs, V&A Museum
What appeals to you about the vision behind this award?
“This award looks at an underrepresented area in photography which has traditionally been overly focused on Western Europe, North America and Japan. There is so much else out there to appreciate, and this should allow us to open our horizons in appreciating and evaluating work beyond what we are used to seeing. I hope the award will broaden how we evaluate and understand photography when it comes from a culture that operates outside of accepted western commercial or art world structures. It should provide a platform for exciting new talents to be recognised and celebrated.”
What do you hope it will achieve in terms of promoting individual artists and the broader African photography landscape to a wider audience?
“Good artists speak to the human condition regardless of where they come from or what medium they use. I hope this prize will bring some highly individual visual artists using photography as their chosen medium of expression into the light. Africa is an enormous place, so there is bound to be a huge variety of talent across the country which just needs a focussed platform such as this to bring creative photographers working today to wider attention outside of its place of origin.”
What is exciting you right now about what’s happening in the contemporary African photography scene and its growing international influence?
“I am more familiar with the scene of contemporary photography in South African than other places on the continent. In Cape Town and Johannesburg, there is a vibrant and highly articulate group of international quality artists and supportive galleries who have shown the world what a unique and powerful voice they have. Artists there use the long history of colonialism, conflict, difference, diversity and reconciliation to inspire new works that are socially and artistically relevant today. They have often adopted and revitalized the visual language of ethnography and anthropology in exciting new ways. Their works enter into contemporary debate about the politics of the body, identity and society in thoughtful and provocative ways.”
Helen Jennings – Editorial Director, Nataal magazine
“I co-founded Nataal as a way to collaborate with the swell of talented emerging African creatives around the world. As such, I support the AMW Photography Prize and its vision to give much needed visibility and support to photographic artists, both in Africa and the diaspora, whose work deserves to be celebrated. I hope this initiative becomes a meaningful annual moment in the UK’s art calendar that puts new names on the map.”
Adenrele Sonariwo – Founder of Rele Gallery and Curator of the Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017
“I’m very excited to be involved with such a great competition and platform. Opportunities like Africa MediaWorks Photography Prize are so important for artists working in this medium. This is great way to celebrate and encourage African artists in the Western sphere.
“Sometimes, when you think of African photography, you think of photojournalism, and that has led to an often-negative portrayal of African culture. But photography has the ability to tell balanced and broad stories from any region, culture and nation.
“I’m so excited by contemporary African artists. Through photography, we can encourage an understanding of the complexities of our culture, identity and history. Cameras are so much more accessible to African people on a street level, so art is more accessible. It’s a medium that allows us to connect.”