Despite the increasing depth and quality of research related to photography in African contexts, little attention has been paid to African framings of environmental concerns. This paper focuses on select works by David Goldblatt, Santu Mofokeng, Mikhael Subotzky, Zwelethu Mthtethwa, and Pieter Hugo of South Africa, George Osodi and Charles Okereke of Nigeria, and Nyaba Leon Ouedraogo of Burkina Faso, to promote consideration of the visual strategies by which unsustainable environmental practices in African contexts are addressed, with a critical awareness of the circuits in which these images have been produced and circulated. Contexts of production and presentation profoundly influence how these images have been positioned as representative of an artist’s style or emblematic of an environmental cause. Emphasis within this analysis is placed on landscapes, particularly those affected by dumping—the accumulation of e-waste, litter, asbestos, and other hazardous waste—to examine the contradictions and synergies between works with resonant visual subjects, to highlight the central role of landscape as an expressive device in shaping a nascent environmental discourse in the arenas of African art and visual culture, and to tease out factors influencing how these photographs and their environmental content are embraced or overlooked.


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pp. 114-140
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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