Since 2012, an international Prize for Contemporary African Photography (CAP) has been awarded annually to five artists – photographers who either have created their work in Africa or have based their work on the Africa diaspora. The time has come to choose the youth who will be awarded this great international achievement in 2017. The list of 25 artists who have made it to the final cut has been published, and their work has been marked as the beginning of a new African school of photography.
African photographers – who used to be famous for documentary photographs depicting poverty and civil war – are now changing the focus of their work. They used to capture the massive issues that the countries on this continent are facing, while today they focus on the personal struggles of either themselves or people close to them. The young African photographers who have made it onto the list of the top 25 artists for the CAP 2017 award have explored a variety of topics from homosexuality to mental illnesses and from illegal traffickers to the lack of education. Sadly, it is important to emphasize that this does not mean that all the major issues of Africa have been solved and therefore artists have turned to their personal struggles. The major issues still exist, but with this new generation of African photographers, the time has come for new directions.
The main reason why we are seeing this change in priorities for African artists is actually the outcome of living in today’s society. Artists have clearly been affected by the immigrant crisis, by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and by social media. Fighting for personal freedoms and rights has become a common topic in the world today, and African young people are following the trends. The issues their work focuses on are global issues, are issues that put them on the same page as their fellow Millennials from across the world. From immigration to racism, multiple movements have been launched by young adults in a desperate attempt to contribute to solving them, the most successful one being Black Lives Matter in the USA. The founding of the Black Lives Matter movement occurred the same year as the first CAP award in 2012. As an initial reaction to racism in the USA and the dehumanization of Black people, this movement has taken the Globe by storm and is growing each day. Their message has been so loud and clear that it has been heard even in the most distant parts of Africa.
So let’s meet some of the 25 aspiring young African photographers who are in the race to win the CAP 2017 award. Mohamed Altoum was born in Khartoum, Sudan and now lives in Nairobi, Kenya. His work is titled „Sudanese cinema – long years of solitude“, in which the artist showcases the decline of cinema and the rise of war in Sudan. Another short-listed artist is Miia Autio born in Reisjarvi, Finland and living in Helsinki. Her work is titled „Variation of White 2015/2016“, and it deals with prejudice, racism, and diversity using the example of a minority – people with albinism in Tanzania. Karim El Maktafi is also in the running to receive a CAP Award for this year with his work titled „Hayati, 2016“. This work depicts the lives of second generation immigrants to Italy using solely his smartphone. Tackling the issue of sexual minorities in Ghana, Eric Gyamfi has chosen as the focal point of his work „. . . Just like us . . . 2016“. Heba Khalifa, from Egypt, has entered the short list with a work titled „Homemade, 2016“ in which she uses storytelling to raise awareness of women's rights issues in her country.
These are just a few of the amazing young artists emerging in Africa who are bringing their stories to the world through the lenses of their cameras. Their work has just begun, and it has already affected many. The CAP Awards team will choose the top 5 artist who will take their work to multiple international exhibitions and raise awareness of the personal struggles the young people of Africa face in their home country as well as abroad.