Mame-Diarra Niang’s The Citadel: a trilogy
              Sean O’Toole
              Paris-based artist Mame-Diarra Niang’s debut book, The Citadel: a trilogy, is a plush and enigmatic showcase of her interest in “the plasticity of territory”; more pointedly, of her use of the landscape genre as self-reflexive tool of knowing, basically as mirror. The multi-part book compiles discrete photo essays produced—and previously exhibited—in two African cities, Dakar and Johannesburg, between 2013 and 2016. The publication makes concrete the formal arrangement of each essay, as well as unifying them under a common rubric. The Citadel follows a number of ambitious books describing Africa’s complex urbanism, among them Guy Tillim’s Jo’burg (2005) and Joburg: Points of View (2014) and Filip De Boeck and Sammy Baloji’s hardcover tome Suturing the City: Living Together in Congo’s Urban Worlds (2016). Its distinction emerges out of Niang’s willingness to subordinate documentary exegesis to mythic questing. The tension between self and place is central to the slow crescendo proposed by the three individually titled and numbered books—Sahel Gris, At the Wall, and Metropolis—that constitute The Citadel. “It is important to me to address the representation of the self as a body that does not reduce itself to flesh, but possesses many places ‘without place’,” Niang stated in a 2015 …
              Teju Cole’s Golden Apple of the Sun
              Megan N. Liberty
              During the lockdowns, Teju Cole turned to cooking. From September 28 to November 3, 2020 (the date of the US presidential election), Cole’s kitchen became his photographic subject. But instead of documenting elaborate freshly plated meals, Cole’s images show the juxtaposing edges of pots and pans, cutting boards, and dirty spoons resting on the stove. The sequence of oddly cropped images illustrates the social and global politics held in our food, cooking habits, and household items. Best known as a novelist and essayist, Cole is also the author of photobooks including Blind Spot (2017), which drew on his Instagram practice of pairing photographs from his travels with long prose captions. But Golden Apple of the Sun departs from this format, instead presenting photographs of his countertop without adjacent texts (save the date and time stamp on the top margin of each page), sequenced with brown pages showing faded handwritten recipes reproduced from an eighteenth-century cookbook. The images and recipe pages are followed by a lengthy text without paragraph breaks, a meandering musing on Cole’s thinking behind this project, which encompasses the history and politics of the still-life genre—particularly the Dutch vanitas—and his own relationship to food and hunger. While the essay is …

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