All posts tagged: met

Conflict remembered: Jo Ractliffe’s photos of Angola and South Africa

African photography is under the spotlight at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a moving exhibition of work produced in the last decade by the South African photographer Jo Ractliffe. South African photographer Jo Ractliffe (born 1961) explores the themes of conflict, history, memory and displacement with her camera. She has described her work as an attempt to “retrieve a place for memory.” Ractliffe was born in 1961 in Cape Town and currently lives in Johannesburg. She completed her BAFA and MFA degrees at the University of Cape Town. Three recent series of photographs are featured in this show, focusing on recent conflict in her native South Africa and neighbouring Angola. Her earliest series Terreno Ocupado (2007–8) was produced around five years after the end of the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), during Ractliffe’s first visit to the capital, Luanda. Her images of shantytowns speak of struggle and land occupation, highlighting the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure post civil war. Her photographs highlight the imprint that the Portuguese colonial occupation of Angola had on Luanda. …

Capturing West Africa’s elite: the photography of a different era

A new exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa, presents over a century of portrait photography in West Africa. Many of these works, which were taken between the 1870s and the 1970s, are being displayed for the first time. There’s a broad selection of images on show, including postcards and original negatives as well as conventional photographs. The choice of photographers is similarly broad, taking in both amateur and professional photographers who captured life in Senegal, Mali, Gabon and Cameroon, among others. What is interesting about these photographs is that they present us with an image of Africa that is seldom recognized – it is often presumed that photographs of Africa from earlier eras were taken by foreign photographers. West Africa, where photography arrived in the 1840s, became a booming photography centre on its own terms. In other words, photographic production was not controlled just by foreigners – rather it was adapted by locals to their own traditions and aesthetic preferences. European and …

Through the looking glass

Since Europeans first made contact with China in the sixteenth century, Chinese art has exerted a heady influence on Western fashion. A new exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, China: Through the Looking Glass, examines the influence of Chinese aesthetics on some of the West’s most lauded fashion designers. A collaboration between the Met’s Asian Art department and The Costume Institute, it mixes high fashion with costumes, films, paintings, porcelains, and other art from China. The exhibition seeks to draw out the image the West has of China, a country which has inspired nostalgia and fantasy in the minds of many of these designers. The curator’s decision to reference Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in the title of the exhibition reflects the fantasy China has inspired in the West. Chinese history and cinema are seen to have exerted a particular pull on the West’s imagination. Three periods of Chinese history are given particular emphasis — Imperial China, the Republic of China, and the Imperial Republic of China. In the Republic of China, Shanghai …