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This chapter accompanied a 1995 exhibition that curated black British artists’ responses to mid-twentieth-century African studio portraits by Seydou Keïta in Mali and Mama Casset in Senegal. With close attention to stylistic choices that reflect the agency of such practitioners, as well as the modern African self-fashioning of their urban sitters, giving the portraits a degree of aesthetic autonomy that surpasses mere documentation and creates a striking alternative to the “othering” produced by colonial representation, the chapter also addresses the diasporic reception context as a liminal or “in-between” space. Artists such as Ingrid Pollard acknowledge the uncanny intimacy of archival materials that evoke a sense of familiarity, even though African photographs from the 1930s to the 1960s had never been widely seen in the West or exhibited as art before the 1990s.

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