This selection of photographs and two video installations centers the continent of Africa as a site of extraction, exploitation, and displacement for economic gain. Many past and ongoing wars in Africa are related to control over mining natural resources, which has caused widespread humanitarian and environmental crises. The removal of labor and natural resources from South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Namibia is critically explored by artists William Kentridge, Richard Mosse, and Doug Aitken, respectively. The exhibition begins with a photograph by Carrie Mae Weems that depicts a historical center for trade in Mali, while British filmmaker and artist Steve McQueen’s landscape offers a sober meditation on the racist violence experienced by millions of people in the United States after being forcibly displaced from the African continent as slaves.
This selection of works from the 1990s to 2013 is primarily drawn from the Pamela and Richard Kramlich Collection; the Kramlichs have been pioneering collectors of video art since the late 1980s. The exhibition aligns with BAMPFA’s Willliam Kentridge film retrospective, screening March 9–April 2, and the US debut of Kentridge’s production SYBIL at Cal Performances, March 17–19. It is also presented in collaboration with a UC Berkeley undergraduate course on video art taught by Professors Shannon Jackson and Greg Niemeyer.