China and Africa have long shared a history of allegiance and contact points through global political forces from the time of colonialism and the Cold War. With China’s rise as the new superpower, its presence in Africa has expanded, leading to significant economic, geopolitical and cultural shifts. While issues such as trade, aid and development have received much attention, Chinese and African encounters through the lens of the visual arts and material culture is a neglected field.
Visualising China in Southern Africa: Biography, Circulation, Transgression is a ground-breaking volume that addresses this deficit through engaging with the work of contemporary African and Chinese artists while analysing broader material production that prefigures the current relationship. The essays are wide-ranging in their analysis of ceramics, photography, painting, etching, sculpture, film, performance, postcards, stamps, installations, political posters, cartoons and architecture.
Visualising China in Southern Africa confines its focus to southern Africa, yet even within this region, the context is complex. Ethnicity and nationalism, the lingering influence of Cold War allegiances and colonial configurations all continue to play a role. The various visual cultures discussed in this volume emphasise the commonality of these categories, but also point towards other shared histories that transcend the nation-state category.
The collection includes scholarly chapters, photo essays, interviews, and artists’ personal accounts, organised around four themes: material flows, orientations and transgressions, spatial imaginaries, and biographies. The artists, photographers, filmmakers, curators and collectors in this volume include: Stary Mwaba, Hua Jiming, Anawana Haloba, Gerald Machona, Nobukho Nqaba, Marcus Neustetter, Brett Murray, Diane Victor, William Kentridge, Kristin NG-Yang, Kok Nam, Mark Lewis, the Chinese Camera Club of South Africa, Wu Jing, Henion Han and Shengkai Wu.
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