The Republic of Luanda

Artist's book, 140 pages, 240 x 290 mm, hard-cover, 2011
Written, designed and produced by Michael MacGarry.
Printed and bound in The People's Republic of China.

Published by All Theory. No Practice. and STEVENSON.

ISBN 978-620-50148-4

Special Edition of 15, Regular edition of 300

 
This body of photographic works, realised over two research trips to Luanda, Angola is orientated toward a documentary approach to an outsider’s view of a contemporary African city. Particularly, one recovering from a deeply traumatic past and a grappling with a conversely turbulent present. A recent addition to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Angola today produces on average 2 000 000 barrels of crude oil per day from deep-water, offshore platforms near the coast of Cabinda, an isolated satellite province to the north of Luanda. This exploitation has produced radical investment principally from China, as well as Brazil, Portugal and from the private sector in the form of Chevron, BP, Haliburton and Exxon-Mobile, amongst many others. Driven by massive growth, abundant foreign currency from oil rents, direct foreign investment and ‘soft’ loans – Luanda has recently come of age as the most expensive city in Africa, and in the top five globally. It has been variously dubbed the Monaco of Africa, and the Dubai of Africa. Ambition fails to mask the realities though; planned and built by the colonial Portuguese for a population of 800 000, today the city houses more than 3 000 000. It is a sombre place – remarkable in parts, deeply damaged in others. Most importantly it is a real-time test-case for the unfolding shift in foreign political and economic dominance in the region in a globalised post-Cold War, New World Order.