“Dialogues in Transition” shows African photography at K21 in Düsseldorf

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Of: Achim Lettman


Photographer Guy Tillim shows postcolonial architecture. “Grande Hotel, Beira, Mozambique” (2008). © Tillim. Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg. The Walther Neu-Ulm / New York Collection

Postcolonial Africa becomes visible in an exhibition at K21 in Düsseldorf. “Dialogues in Transition” offers around 500 photographs of African photographic artists.

Dusseldorf – you Afro look it was program. American civil rights activist Angela Davis wore frizzy hair with pride and political intent. It was a sign against that institution. A black community called this rebellion Black Power in the 1960s and 1970s. Davis, a philosopher and writer from Alabama, was considered a symbol of the movement. He imitated her he looks Photo artist Samuel Fosso in 2008. He put on a wig: “Self-Portrait (Angela Davis)” was then called. Fosso, born in Kumba (Cameroon) in 1962, investigated the power he photographs civil rights and freedom activists triggered. With the series “African Spirits” he questions iconic images: Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and others. It is always Samuel Fosso who has slipped into the roles and embodied the celebrities who internationally fought for resistance, for something unmistakable. Portraits of him connect it right to liberty with integrity. And the will and strength of these protagonists are part of a pictorial acceptance strategy that was evident in predominantly white societies.

The exhibition at K21 mainly documents the changes in the art world. “Dialogue in transition. Photographs from Walther collection“Collects over 500 photographs, some in installations, of about 40 photographers of African origin and some Europeans. was the initiator of the change Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019). The Nigerian, who curated documenta 11 in Kassel in 2002, set up the collective exhibition “Moments of the Self” on portrait photography and social identity in 2010 at The Walther Collection in Neu-Ulm. Enwezor sees many contradictions in the history of photography. Instead of following the chronology of a photographic practice developed in the West, his theory outlines the photo history a global understanding of photographic culture.

The Düsseldorf exhibition confirms this statement with comparisons. On the one hand there are the portraits of Seydou Keita (1923–2001) from Mali, on the other side of the cabinet “Portrait and Social Change” are excerpts from the series of photos “The Face of Time” by the German August Sanders (1876-1964). The portraits of Këita (1952–1955), done before Mali gained independence, gave people the confidence that they were attractive and confident. A young woman feels represented by the photograph (“Untitled”) – garishly dressed and wearing a hat. In August Sander’s work, the people portrayed are recorded in their environments and in their professions: couples of peasants, artisans, employees, workers. There are 60 gelatin silver prints from 1929. Your awareness of class manifests itself visually. For Sander a “mirror of the times”. Keita left 30,000 black and white images in the capital Bamako, a panorama of Malian life in the twentieth century.

In a second comparison women’s hairstyles shown in Nigeria photographed by JD ‘Okhai Ojeikere (1930–2014). “Hairstyles, 1970–1979” ensures the diversity of a craftsmanship that expresses national identity. With his project, the photographer promotes collective memory. Includes 1000 photographs typological study to braid hair. Bernd (1931-2007) and Hilla (1934-2015) Becher also wanted to commemorate with their series of photos of abandoned industrial buildings: winding towers, water tanks and gas tanks are several examples in Düsseldorf of the decline in industrial building types in the 1970s and 1980s.

Based on the New Yorker “Inside” exhibit Guggenheim Museum in 1996, Artur Walther became interested in African photography. In addition to traveling exhibitions around the world, The Walther Collection Foundation in Neu-Ulm and New York supports presentations, publications and research on photography. Also Japan and China, as well as historical bundle of photos affect the foundation. The art collector Artur Walther (73) has now received the cultural award of the German Society for Photography for his commitment.

African photography convinces in Düsseldorf. Using the example of the landscape and portrait image, colonial-era foreign attributions oppose a multi-layered examination of Africa’s postcolonial legacy. of the chronicler duty it is enough in a showcase. Stereotypes on postcards 19th century ethnographically identify Africans as warriors, hunters, or cute exotic creatures.

Very precisely documented Yto Barrada, born in Paris in 1971, but with her cycle of works “Sleepers” (2006) an example of African identity today. Photos of her show people lying still. Violence and drugs are quickly associated, from a European point of view. the Sleep However, they want to go to Gibraltar via Tangier. After burning their passport, they are considered “burners”, people who sweep everything away to start over in a promised land.

Jo Ractliffe’s black and white series “The Lands at the End of the World” (2009/10) also has its own language. The roughly 50 landscape images show former war theaters in Angola: mass graves in Cassinga, where the tarpaulins cover delimited areas; a cave that served the soldiers and a mined forest “on the road to Cuito Cunavale”. On the contrary, Guy Tillim (South Africa) captures postcolonial architecture as the monstrous remnant of a bizarre past. “Grande Hotel, Beira, Mozambique” marks the broken promise, with tourism Earn money in the outdoors. A color photo from 2008.

Colonial relics tracked down François-Xavier Gbré (Ivory Coast / France). Everything seems forgotten: the Renault in the garage, the guy in a printing shop, the fresco in the governor’s palace. Subjective memory combines with history in 2013’s 63-part series Untitled (Constellation), in Benin, Togo or elsewhere.

Nontsikelelo Veleko (South Africa) documents Johannesburg street style with color portraits. In the photo “Nonkululeko” (2003) she is wearing one passerby a yellow sweater, military pants and red stockings. Her bag made from recycled Coca-Cola cans is simply stylish. How the identity will end Fashion built, Veleko asks with his series “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Such series can be photographed in cities around the world.

Until 25.9 .; Tue – Fri 10:00 – 18:00, Sat / Sun 11:00 – 18:00;

Tel. 0211/83 81 204; www.kunstsammlung.de

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