Red Fever is a photographic project that aims to explore, through images, photos and photomontages, the spread of socialism throughout Africa and the traces it left on the continent.
Juxtaposing the real and the false, tampering with history itself, artist Adji Dieye gives herself the possibility to look at this period - too often untold - with fresh eyes, as if it was something coming from a parallel reality. The leaders and dictators become phantoms of themselves; not forgiven, but often forgotten by the West, they leave space to an orthodox ideology from which they usually distanced themselves. Soviet blocs in the jungle, constructivist towers, and monuments in the middle of the savanna seem to describe a peculiar retro afro-future imagined 50 years ago.
A possibility that never came to realization but, and maybe for that, still fascinate us.
With her images of past and an imagined communism in Africa, Dieye presents and preserves the last dream of a polycentric world where everything doesn’t have to pass under the surveillance of the neo-liberal West. While not idealizing or cleansing in any way the history that comes with the red fever, the idea of choice of political system is becoming today more and more difficult to imagine, making this project evermore relevant.
At the same time, Dieye continues to enquire into the possibility of a system-world without a monolithic structure through images of monuments and statues produced by North-Korean firm Mansudae Art Studio all over the African continent. In this silenced and surreal relationship between the Hermit Kingdom and 16 different African countries, we find the embodiment of our post-Westphalian world condition. Defying all agreements with the United Nations, states like Namibia or Mozambique kept profitable accords with North Korea, becoming de facto a ring in a chain that moved money from the UN to the Pyongyang regime, one of their most feared enemies - an air of cold war rises while the nuclear menaces from both sides of the Pacific increase.
Only traces of this socialist genealogy of Africa, these monuments, red and flattened, open a discussion about the political power of representation and its impact on the construction of the identity of a people. Not shying away from a critique, Dieye points out the absurdity of the propaganda these monuments spread through their statements, putting them side by side with an almost playful and paper-like version of themselves.
Text by Niccolò Moscatelli