Zambians are being encouraged to use photography to challenge Western stereotypes of life in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kerstin Hacker, Course Leader for Photography at Anglia Ruskin University, is running workshops and hosting an exhibition in the Zambian capital Lusaka next week, in collaboration with the Visual Arts Council Zambia.
The workshops will explore how photography can improve the visual identity of a developing country like Zambia and how it can foster a country’s “visual self-governance”.
To coincide with the workshops, an exhibition of Kerstin’s photography chronicling life in modern Zambia, called Generation Z, will go on show at the Henry Tayali Gallery in Lusaka from 14-25 August. The images show Zambians enjoying leisure time in a range of locations including a shopping mall, a ballet class and a fast food chicken restaurant.
Kerstin, who was made a Fellow of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity last year in recognition of her work in Zambia, said: “Zambia is most commonly presented to a Western audience through the usual visual narrative of Africa: population growth, epidemics and poverty. However, everyday life as experienced by its growing, affluent middle class is very different.
“My series Generation Z aims to document the changing urban experience in Lusaka. The images of the emerging middle class question the usual visual experience of Africa. They highlight the emergence of a section of society which is internationally connected, has disposable income and is politically active.
“The photographs presents an alternative vision of a different, 21st century African life rarely discussed in the West. It is important that people in Zambia, and in all developing nations, use photography to help change perceptions at home and abroad. Too often we only see negative images of the African continent and while these images are also true, they are not the only truth.”
Supported by an Educational Partnerships in Africa grant from the British Council and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Kerstin has been developing a new photography curriculum with the University of Zambia, the first in the region outside of South Africa.
“The need for visual self-governance in Zambia is real,” said Gerald Mwale, a Lecturer at the University of Zambia. “There is definitely a lack of visual literacy among the Zambian public and institutions.
“Amongst the immediate needs identified are high quality and thoughtful images in newspapers, institutional and corporate newsletters, online and print magazines, advertising billboards, nature and landscape photography.
“Unfortunately, most photographs of Zambia seen here and abroad are taken by foreign photographers as Zambia is still developing a photographic education.”