20 Apr 2018 - 20 Mai 2018

Photobastei |Sihlquai 125 (3. OG), 8005 Zürich

Ausstellung / Vernissage

Exhibition: Press Photography and Archives in Africa

Images of Current Affairs

After a successful show during four months in the summer of 2017 at the university library Basel the exhibition Images of Current Affairs. Press Photography and Archives in Africa is now shown in Zürich at Photobastei.

Richly illustrated, the exhibition provides visitors with an insight into the political, social and economic development of colonial and post-colonial times in numerous African countries, as documented by state and private press agencies. In addition, it documents the function, use and organization of a medium that has contributed so much to the formation of national identities by visualizing the struggles for self-determination and justice.

While most of the material in the exhibition comes from the press photo archive in Buea, a small part of the exhibition shows press photos from South Africa, which have developed a special dynamic and language in the context of the local and international anti-apartheid movement. The results of a contemporary, artistic examination of historical photographs provide an insight into their possible uses beyond purely scholarly questions and applications.

The exhibition makes a point on the cultural and social-historical significance and research potential of press photographs and press photo archives in Africa. It is also a plea for their preservation, protection and use since if the continent's visual cultural heritage is forgotten and not used, there is a risk that African press photo archives will literally disappear from the scene.

Images of Current Affairs. Press Photography and Archives in Africa is the result of the project carried out by African Photography Initiatives between 2013 and 2015 Press Photo Archive Buea, Cameroon, long-term preservation, conservation and access and was shown for the first time in summer 2017 with great success at the University Library of Basel.

For some years now, and increasingly, African photography, especially historical (western) African studio and contemporary art photography, has been attracting public attention, while African press photography is still largely unknown in its function as a time capsule and memory store for future generations. State press photo agencies on the African continent have played an eminently important role in the formation of national and pan-African identities in the post-colonial era.

Since their creation during and shortly after the Second World War, state-run African press and photo agencieshave been profoundly influenced by various political and, in particular, technological changes. The first is the transformation of colonial information services into institutions serving the new and independent nations. The other changes concern the technological change from black-and-white to colour photography and from analogue to digital photography on the one hand, and the emergence of the Internet on the other. Such changes have had a lasting effect on the archive, the place and the institution in which press photographs are collected, stored and organized and from where the images reach the public. How this happens and how it is regulated, under which political, social, legal and material conditions, has immediate and long-term effects on access to the photographs, on their use and circulation, in short, on the public presence of press photographs and their long-term material survival.

While the majority of the exhibition's material comes from the press photo archive in Buea (Cameroon), a small part of the exhibition presents press photos from South Africa, which have developed a special dynamic and language in the context of the local and international anti-apartheid movement, as well as press photographs from Uganda.

Further information: www.african-photography-initiatives.org


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