Leni Riefenstahl (1902–2003) came back into the public eye in the 1970s with two volumes of photographs on the Nuba. They met with outstanding public success. But what did these spectacular images of the human body mean shortly after the decoloniziation of Africa? Riefenstahl’s photo books activate an archive of visual knowledge fed by colonial stereotypes, primitivist topoi and echoes of National Socialist body politics. They develop a language about the “other” using oppositions of blackness
and natural tendencies vs. whiteness and civilization, inextricably linked with notions of heroism, innocence and uninhibited sexuality. Riefenstahl’s images are juxtaposed with works by artists such as Ousmane Sow and Lisl Ponger. This discourse and critical study is dedicated to one of the most popular examples in the post-colonial production of images of African bodies, in order to decode and shed light on its multilayered psychosocial and political functionalization.