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L’Afrique par elle-même

History of African photography

This photographic exhibition has been realised in Bologna, from the 18th May to the 2nd July 2000, in the Sala d’Ercole of Palazzo d’Accursio, during the celebrations of Bologna 2000, in collaboration with Revue Noire of Paris, a magazine of contemporary African art and literature.
The initiative has had the contribution of the Bologna Committee 2000 and of the Institute of Cultural Goods of the region Emilia Romagna.
The exhibition, which has been itinerant in the most important museums and galleries of different countries (United Kingdom, France, South Africa, Mali, United States, Germany), is the first and fundamental presentation of the history of African photography since 1840 until now. This exhibition included almost 150 pictures, taken between the '20s and the '70s, organised in three different sections: “debut”, “portraitists” and “a new look”.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the African photographers have become self-employed and have had the possibility to work independently from the European professional photographers with whom they were used to work before. They have essentially made portraits, initially house-to-house and then in their own offices, turning photography into a popular phenomenon. With the end of colonialism, some portraitists stepped out from their offices and started photographing the African society, with its feasts, marriages and baptisms: a society depicted as joyful for independence but also frustrated for the first delusions of the new-born states.

On the occasion of this exhibition, Lai-momo has published a special number of Africa e Mediterraneo (n. 1-2/2000) with a dossier entitled "The photographer’s eye, the anthropologist’s look" and a report on the exposition. The journal can be purchased on www.laimomo.it in the section publishing > journal.

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