First Look: 'Platform Africa' Highlights What and Who You Need to Know in African Photography

A preview of Aperture's summer issue highlighting the dynamic spaces that have shaped conversations about photography in Africa.

JOHANNESBURG—This summer, you'll now have the opportunity to take a deeper look at the dynamic spaces that have shaped conversations about photography in Africa for the past 25 years, from biennials and experimental art spaces to educational workshops.

Aperture Magazine presents its summer issue, "Platform Africa," where it highlights and celebrates a new generation of artists you need to know. The issue is due to launch June 22 at Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg.

"Platform Africa" was produced in collaboration with guest editors Bisi Silva, founder and artistic director of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos, Nigeria; Aïcha Diallo, associate editor of Contemporary And, and John Fleetwood, former head of Johannesburg's Market Photo Workshop and current director of Photo:, a new African initiative.

Fleetwood started Photo:—a critical and engaging photography platform that produces curates and develops exhibition, educational and research programs—in 2015.

"Photo: is a photography platform that wants to develop and promote photographers and photography projects that speaks to photography’s role and place as a response to the vibrant, conflicted and changing societies of South Africa, the region and the continent," he says. "We work with many photographers throughout the continent in mentorships and exhibitions. So far, we have been part of masterclasses in Ethiopia, Sudan, Cabo Verde and in South Africa."

Fleetwood notes that Photo: is conducting an ongoing major survey on photography training institutions in Africa to develop links and connections amongst institutions, and to fast track relevant photography training.

"The updated edition will be launched later this year," he says. "Key to our understanding is the developing nature of photographies and visual languages in different contexts. In the next quarter, we will launch a photography competition to develop new work for Southern African photographers."

Sarah Waiswa, 'Seeking to Belong,' 2016, from the series 'Stranger in a Familiar Land.' Courtesy the artist.

One takeaway he'd like for readers to get out of "Platform Africa" is how photography continues to be a tool to analyze the challenges the continent faces.

"I love the diversity of terrains that photography has to encounter in Africa as it makes for such fresh and complicated meanings," he adds. "Part of these diverse roles and functions that photography has to the specifities of Africa, is that it can engage at a critical moment in the development of new understandings of the world. The vibrancy and energy that photography brings to identity and identity politics is also a reaction to the difficulties of the continent."

In the photo gallery below, catch a glimpse of photography by African photographers featured in Platform Africa—some of whom have debuted their portfolios in the issue. Be sure to check back for a continued conversation with Bisi Silva and Aïcha Diallo here on OkayAfrica.



Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

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