Invisible Cities engages with the extending and reordering of space in post-colonial cities of sub-Saharan Africa. They examine how peripheral developments and selltlements have become a frontier through unconventional and largely unrecorded means. Abdi Maliqe Simone writes that in African cities urban dynamics are shifted away from actual cities to murky borderlands and where new formulations of sovereignty, belonging and nationhood are provisionally concretized. Exclusion and incorporation, marginality and experimentation, then converge in ways that are not easily discernable.
'Seawright’s photographs document these new urban spaces. The focus is not on the large monuments, landmarks, or signature buildings that would often be used to characterise a city. Nor does Seawright give us the bustling markets, chaotic street-life, or overcrowded transport systems that are so much a part and parcel of the visitors experience of urban African. Instead he concentrates on the edges of these cities: the spaces through which the residents navigate their day to day lives. We get deserted lane-ways, apartment buildings, motor-way overpasses, roadside billboards and parking lots. His camera moves into interior spaces to show us hospital waiting rooms, non-descript offices, bars and classrooms. When people appear in the photographs they are either alone or in small groups. They seem to be in states of suspended animation: waiting, staring, sometimes sleeping.'
From Exception to the Norm: Representations of Urban Africa in Paul Seawright’s “Invisible Cities” in Traces of the Real >>