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Ibrahim El-Salahi

By Michael Vasquez

Ibrahim El-Salahi had a show at the Tate Modern in 2013. It was an amazing retrospective – it also had vitrines filled with the material culture by which his work entered into the international art world. He came into the art world in the early 1960s, and he came through various publications. This is one of the elliptical things that I am interested in, the apparatus of culture, which is: publications, prints, exhibitions, networks, relationships, and people – things without which famous books or artworks or shows would not exist. For example, in this show – “A Visionary Modernist” was the title – you see Black Orpheus, the first major literary magazine in Africa, founded in the late 1950s. This is where Ibrahim Salahi gets his first appearance and is profiled by the editor-in-chief. Actually, his first show is in Ibadan, at the Mbari Club, organised by the editor of Black Orpheus.

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A selection of publications featuring the graphic work of Ibrahim El-Salahi: Black Orpheus, Issue no 10; etc etc. (Courtesy of Ibrahim El-Salahi)

A selection of publications featuring the graphic work of Ibrahim El-Salahi: Black Orpheus, Issue no 10; etc etc. (Courtesy of Ibrahim El-Salahi)

muzmin_coverresizedThis article features in a special, Arabic-only edition of the Chronic, published in June 2015 as “Muzmin”. The issue, which examines the division of “North” and “sub-Saharan” Africa and Ali Mazrui’s concept of “Afrabia”, was designed in collaboration with Studio Safar (Beirut) and presented at the 12th edition of Sharjah Biennial.

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