On September 12th, The Walther Collection debut its new photo exhibition entitled, “Distance and Desire: Encounter of the African Archive” which includes images curated by photographer Santu Mofokeng (The Black Photo Album/Look At Me) and archival materials from A.M. Duggan-Cronin’s “The Bantu Tribes of Africa” that will be presented as a three-part exhibition, focusing on late nineteenth to early twentieth century African photography that has been exhibited in New York and in Germany. The collection provides “an unprecedented opportunity to consider how images of Africans are affected by context and circulation. What serves as a delimiting stereotype or demeaning label in one mode – the idealized warrior, the noble native, the passive maiden – may provide material for an iconoclastic and irreverent reworking in another. What counts as an ethnographic study or a device for coercive control in one era may later become the ground of an elegiac reenactment or satirical performance.”
This unique exhibition will be presented in three parts:
Part I: Santu Mofokeng and A.M. Duggan-Cronin (September 13 – November 17, 2012), which will be a dual presentation of Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin’s “The Bantu Tribes of South Africa” and Santu Mofokeng’s “The Black Photo Album / Look at Me: 1890-1950.”
Part II: Contemporary Reconfigurations (November 30, 2012 – March 9, 2013), showcasing selected contemporary African and African American artists who “engage critically with the ethnographic archive by parodying, replaying,
exposing and dialoguing with its pictorial tropes and traditions.”
Part III: Poetics and Politics (March 22, 2013 – May 18, 2013), showing exclusively works produced from the mid nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries; “it will combine books, albums, postcards and cartes de visite with individual vintage prints, all depicting Africans through the filters of European cameras and mentalities.”
In addition to these presentations, The Walther Collection, in collaboration with New York University and University College London, will present a symposium to explore issues raised by the collection’s archive of African photography on Saturday, November 10 at New York University’s Silver Center.
“This one-day event brings together leading international scholars to exchange, debate and open up the categories often used to describe historic photographs of Africans: colonial, ethnographic, anthropological, artistic. The symposium will provide a space for rethinking the African archive while framing it within the concerns of contemporary scholars and artists.”
The Walther Collection Project Space
526 West 26th Street, Suite 718
New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212 352 0683
The Walther Collection
+49 731 176 9143
The exhibitions stage a dialogue between ethnographic visions and contemporary engagements with archival imagery and feature recent work by African and African American artists. “Distance and Desire” offers new perspectives on the archive, re-imagining its poetic and political dimensions, its diverse histories, and its changing meanings. The series is curated by Tamar Garb, a Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art at University College London.