Modern And Contemporary Arts Of Africa

2955 Words12 Pages
Tessa Giller - 619194
Modern and Contemporary Arts of Africa
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African art and the politics of identity in the twenty-first century.
‘Identity is never an a priori, nor a finished product; it is only ever the problematic process of access to an image of totality’ - H. Bhahba (1994:50)


The second half of the twentieth century saw the liberation of the African continent from colonial rule, a time that occasioned the rise of new pride in and new searches for definitions of identities released from the colonial confines. In the twentieth century the politics of identity became salient in discourses, political, social, and cultural, on Africa. The idea of the diaspora was central to new conceptions on African art, often leading to the exclusion of artist residing in Africa in preference of those living in the nomadic condition. The forefront of Africa in modernity was thus not seen as residing in Africa itself but in those that found themselves in the realms of the hegemonic modernity of the West. Nevertheless independence from colonial rule saw a surge in self-defining nationalisms based on an ideal form of African nation and identity. Ways of being and producing African art were prescribed to artists, though this does not mean that individual agency was lost. As Atkinson states on post-Apartheid South Africa: ‘it is clear that the stakes have shifted, and the country’s reintegration into ‘international art’, culture, and politics, has
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