First major exhibition of contemporary photos at Quai Branly

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The Parisian Museum of Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac offers its first exhibition devoted to uniquely contemporary photography, with 26 artists from 18 countries, especially from the south, who question the memorial role of photography.

“To you belongs the look and the infinite connection between things”, this title was drawn by the curator Christine Barthe in a quote from the German romantic writer Ludwig Hülsen. It sets the tone for an exhibition, which allows a beautiful plunge into works – photos but also videos and installations -.

“The language is never thundering. As if the curator wanted to make it possible to listen to the image, and that the visitor reinvests the look in these times of visual hubbub”, comments Emmanuel Kasarhérou, the new president of the museum.

The route opens with “SIXSIXSIX”, a display of 666 Polaroid self-portraits by the Cameroonian artist Samuel Fosso. We find further this portraitist with “African spirits”, where his face embodies under different hats and hairstyles Angela Davis, Luther King, Malcolm X, Lumumba, Nkrumah, Césaire, Haïlé Sélassié, Seydou Keita …

Some works are the fruit of residencies of which several artists have been awarded. Like the series of pastel-hued photos of the 27-year-old Congolese, Gosette Lubondo, the youngest of the exhibitors, who stages former students in an abandoned high school.

The South African Santu Mofokeng revisits very old photos on which families of the black bourgeoisie pose, photos accompanied by questions like: “Who is watching?” or “Are these images evidence of mental colonization?”

Another artist who stands out is the Vietnamese Dinh Q. Lê, who, fleeing the conflict in his country and having lost all the family photos, built installations like huts made up of thousands of network photos, like a recovered memory.

Sammy Baloji (DRC) studies the traces of colonial urbanism in Lubumbashi and the South African Guy Tillim revives the sidewalks of African metropolises. Many other visions are proposed.

For Christine Barthe, head of the Photographic Heritage Unit at Quai Branly, “the eye is not passive, it chooses, it recomposes fragments”. It is this visual language that she wishes the visitor to discover.

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