Art and identity

The New York Times reviews a photographic exhibit - "Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography" - at the International Center of Photography. The Times reviewer also riffs a bit on Afro-pessimism, Ethan Zuckerman's lament in a recent post, suggesting that "Africanness, as an elusive, possibly delusive concept, is one of the show's themes."

One of the ironies of news reporting on the continent - war! disaster! famine! - is that this pessimism is constantly reinforced. These photographers, mostly born in or after the independence decade of the 60's, film a neglected reality. The irony is that art, not most news reporting, tells the whole story. And as always, much depends on what one see without the lens.