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Impressions Gallery

exhibitions: past

Africa State of Mind

29th Mar - 15th Jun 2019

Africa State of Mind presents the work of a new generation of photographers from across the African continent. Curated by the eminent writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun, this major exhibition features 13 artists who collectively interrogate ideas of ‘Africanness’.

The exhibition features artists working in numerous fields from fashion to film, architecture to literature. The artists are: Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Neil Beloufa, Girma Berta, Eric Gyamfi, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Lebohang Kganye, Namsa Leuba, Michael MacGarry, Sabelo Mlangeni, Musa N Nxumalo, Ruth Ossai, Athi Patra Ruga and Michael Tsegaye.

Their work is inspired by wide range of subjects: urban nightlife in Johannesburg; Afrofuturism; construction projects in Ethiopia; vodun (voodoo) religion in Benin; and Ghana’s LGBT+ community, among others. What unites these diverse approaches is an emphasis on subjectivity to explore life and identity on the continent, by its inhabitants and diaspora. Together, the artists reveal Africa to be a psychological space as much as a physical territory; a state of mind as much as a tangible location.

The exhibition is curated around three main themes.  Hybrid Cities documents the modern African city in all its dynamism and contradictions. Zones of Freedom addresses the fluidity of gender and sexual identity through compelling portraiture, as well as the legacy of history, from slavery and colonialism to apartheid. Inner Landscapes draws on the artists’ memories and fascinations to conjure individual interpretations of the African past and present.

Curator Ekow Eshun says, “popular Western views of the continent remain distorted. Ethnographic imagery of the colonial period presented Africans as the primitive people of a dark place. Today, contemporary news reports still portray the continent as a place of chaos, corruption and disease. By contrast, Africa State of Mind features photographers that seek to address the complexity of what it means, and how it feels, to live in Africa today”.


Africa State of Mind is a touring exhibition by New Art Exchange, Nottingham, curated by Ekow Eshun, in association with touring partner Impressions Gallery.

Exhibition resources

Click here to download an information sheet about the exhibition (PDF 655KB)
Click here to download an exhibition guide (PDF 2.3MB)
Click here to download a Gallery Trail (PDF 1.3MB)

Listen again

If you missed the Curator's Talk with Ekow Eshun on Saturday 30 March, listen again via Soundcloud

Athi-Patra Ruga, Night of the Long Knives I, 2013

Athi-Patra Ruga, Night of the Long Knives I, 2013

Click on thumbnail below to enlarge

Athi-Patra Ruga, Night of the Long Knives I, 2013 Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Nothing’s in Vain, 2017 Girma Berta, Moving Shadows II, VIII, 2017 Kiluanji Kia Henda. The Last Journey of the Dictator Mussunda N'zombo Before the Great Extinction Act I, 2017 Lebohang Kganye, Ka 2-phisi yaka e pinky II, 2013 Michael MacGarry. Video still from ‘Excuse me, while I disappear’, 2014 Michael Tsegaye, Future Memories X, 2009 Musa N Nxumalo, Are the fees gonna fall or nah, 2017 Neil Beloufa, Video still from Kempinski, 2017 Ruth Ossai, Chidiebere Ezugwu and Ifebuche Ezugwu Nsukka, Enugu state, Nigeria, 2017 Sabelo Mlangeni, Xolani Mngayi, eStanela, 2009