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Lens on Life: From Bamako to San Francisco 

Wednesday, Jun 13 2007
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"Africa is not a lost continent," says Yoyo Gonthier, one of the 22 African photographers represented in this excellent show. The works exhibited prove that there are as many Africas as there are artistic visions. Mikhael Subotzky spent months in a maximum security prison in South Africa teaching photography and befriending inmates and guards. His humanity and respect for his subjects shows in his work — intimate shower scenes, a steamy kitchen, a bunk room with hundreds of men asleep on the floor. In Helga Kohl's stark dreamlike images, oceans of sand literally flood deserted homes in an abandoned Namibian mining settlement. Rana El Nemir catches exhausted women riding the Cairo subway home after work. Uchechukwu James Iroha shoots gorgeous and ghastly images of the meat market/slaughter yard in Lagos, Nigeria. Blood and mud run thick on men's boots, and piles of goats, their throats cut, are bargained for and hauled away. Zaynab Toyosi Odunsi photographs the night-time cafes and outdoor bars of Lagos with their teenage denizens — flirting, smoking, shooting pool, and listening to DJs — as they find their way in the modern world. Dozens more stunning works in a range of styles are on display in multiple sites. The exhibition originated in Bamako, Mali, the sixth annual photo show organized by African curators, and is sponsored by MoAD and the SF International Arts Festival. In a twist on the standard audio tour, visitors to MoAD can dial their cellphones to a museum number and hear curator Simon Njami comment on the work. —Lea Feinstein

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Lea Feinstein

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