Curating African Art on Dynamic Africa’s Tumblr

by An Xiao on December 2, 2013

A screenshot of Art Week Cape Town highlighted in Dynamic Africa recently.

A screenshot of Art Week Cape Town highlighted in Dynamic Africa recently.

OAKLAND, Calif. — A few weeks ago, I looked at contemporary African photography thanks to a terrific series from Dynamic Africa, one of my new favorite blogs. A great example of Tumblr’s possibilities as a site for curation, it is the work of Funke M., a culture curator and observer based in South Africa and originally from Nigeria. Originally started as “fYeahAfrica”, the site’s stated goal is to showcase “African cultures, African history, and the lives and experiences of Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora — past and present.”

The Tumblr recently began doing themed posts each month, starting with a series in August on African women, inspired by South Africa’s Women’s Month. “I carried on with it,” noted Funke in an interview with Hyperallergic, “as I found it easier to structure my posts around a specific theme (no matter how general or broad in nature) as it allowed me to sift through the vast world of information available on the web and give my blog more of a concrete look and direction.”

While in November, Funke has been highlighting travel and tourism on the continent, in October, she focused on African art and artists and introducing her followers to a broad range of work. There’s the work of Lalla Essaydi, a Moroccan artist who depicts women reclining amidst Arabic script and henna, a collection of barber shop illustrations from around Africa, and words and works from Nigerian-born sculptor Ben Enwonwu. Many of the posts are reblogs, and Funke’s skill comes in the curation and presentation around the theme as she digs through the varied internets: “The great thing about the internet is that one search often leads you through to a myriad of related topics — an often wonderful journey for me.”

Funke pointed me to a list of resources she collected on her site, including fellow Tumblr blogs like East Africa Art, Black Contemporary Art, and Rise Africa’s Artist Lounge, and blogs like African Colours. These sites all feature works from both artists based in Africa and artists from the diaspora, and like Daniel Rehn’s internet history project and Lou Brooks’s archive of art supplies, Funke’s work demonstrates social media’s power as a curation tool.

“Finding information is never a difficult thing,” she noted. “The real difficulty lies in curating and aggregating the topic as well as confirming information found on one source by seeking out other sources.”

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