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The African Photographers Rewriting the Rules

At first glance, Congolese photographer Kiripi Katembo’s images look like playful sci-fi montages: shaky Kinshasa streetscapes in which giant rocks seem to be falling out of the sky, like a lo-fi apocalypse. On closer inspection there are no special effects: the images are actually reflections in puddles, turned upside down, each capturing a fleeting moment of street life in a shimmering, suitably surreal fashion that’s arguably closer to the sensory experience of being there. The histories of photography and colonialism go hand in hand, especially in Africa. As Zimbabwean novelist Yvonne Vera once wrote: “In Africa … the camera arrives as part of the colonial paraphernalia, together with the gun and the bible.”