The Mlungu in Africa
art from the colonial period, 1840 - 1940
SC 28 x 28 cm., 110 pp.
Mlungu is a term widely used in south-east Africa for a white person. This book presents African art that engages with the presence of white people in the 'contact zones' and colonial states in sub- Saharan Africa. Such works transgress conventional categories and display a cross-cultural hybridization of styles, techniques and imagery. They illustrate the dynamic and creative role of African artists in negotiating European and African identities in times when realities were rapidly altering and evolving.
Almost all the works included are figurative and carved by men in wood and ivory (aside from a few bronzes).
The works reflect the interactions of African artists with foreign cultures. These cross-cultural exchanges were marked by misunderstanding, fear and admiration. The selection counterbalances the nostalgic and amusing images of Africans and Europeans in exotic settings with works that illustrate the harsh realities of the impact of Europeans in Africa.