Latest News

A World in Common: Celebrating Contemporary African Photography at the Tate Modern

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

What is spirituality in modern Africa today? How do we relate our African roots subject to spirituality? As we navigate modernity, do we still engage with traditional African spirituality, or has the current way of living swallowed away our African traditional roots? Well, the Tate Modern Museum invites all audiences to a photographic journey across Africa.

A World in Common exhibition by Tate Modern unites 36 photographers across the continent to examine the effects of urbanization and globalization on family, and spirituality, and reimage a world from the African lens. Additionally, this exhibition is a hallelujah moment for the continent, as it serves as an instigator and challenger of these dominant narratives imposed on us during the colonization period.

Bankisa- Atong Atem , 2022. Image courtesy of Atong Atem

The exhibition will delve into the emergence of studio photography in Africa during the 1950s and 1960s. This was a time when many African countries gained independence, giving them power over Westernized views. James Barnor from Ghana and Lazhar Mansouri from Algeria took portraits of families and individuals in their communities. Family portraits in the ’60s and ’70s were a reference point for family institutions, which is not a recent trend

Both artists showed an authentic view of communal identity as well as belonging between Africa and its diaspora. This was always reflected in family photo albums and formal studio portraits. Another major theme explored is that African religious and spiritual practices often incorporate ritual. Furthermore, African rituals hold great significance to artists such as Khadija Saye, Atong Atem, Maïmouna Guerresi, and Em’kal Eyongakpa, who will be showcasing at the exhibition. Spirituality serves as a gateway between the living and their ancestors.

Family members at the occasion of the engagement of James’ cousin.-1970s. image courtesy of Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière

One can view the exhibition online or book a studio visit via the tate modern platform. The exhibition commences on 6th July 2023 – January 2024. We look forward to seeing the works of this notable African artist. We cannot wait to learn and understand more about the impacts of urbanization on African culture, spirituality, and family.


Rose Mwikali Musyoki is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance from the University of Embu, Kenya, and is the founder of Bloom Inc, an art startup in Kenya. Currently, she works as a writer for Art News Africa.

Write A Comment