Media Primitivism

Media Primitivism

Technological Art in Africa

The Visual Arts of Africa and its Diasporas

by Delinda Collier

Published by: Duke University Press Books

272 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 79 illustrations, incl. 16 in color

  • ISBN: 9781478009696
  • Published: October 2020


In Media Primitivism Delinda Collier provides a sweeping new understanding of technological media in African art, rethinking the assumptions that have conceptualized African art as unmediated, primary, and natural. Collier responds to these preoccupations by exploring African artworks that challenge these narratives. From one of the first works of electronic music, Halim El-Dabh’s "Ta’abir Al-Zaar" (1944), and Souleymane Cissé's 1987 film, Yeelen, to contemporary digital art, Collier argues that African media must be understood in relation to other modes of transfer and transmutation that have significant colonial and postcolonial histories, such as extractive mining and electricity. Collier reorients modern African art within a larger constellation of philosophies of aesthetics and technology, demonstrating how pivotal artworks transcend the distinctions between the constructed and the elemental, thereby expanding ideas about mediation and about what African art can do.