Voyage Retour is the title of a new exhibition staged by the Museum Folkwang. For this project, the Nigerian city of Lagos will host a show presenting pictures by the internationally renowned Nigerian photographer J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, alongside works by Rolf Gillhausen, Germaine Krull, Robert Lebeck, Malick Sidibé and Wolfgang Weber drawn from the Museum Folkwang’s collection.
The exhibition tour is an integral part of the curatorial concept, which focuses on the perspectival shifts and exchanges that took place between Africa and Europe, as manifested in the medium of photography, from the 1920s up until the period of decolonisation and the transition to independence. Voyage Retour brings together images by European and African photographers that bear the marks of the various sociopolitical conditions that channelled their expression.
The exhibition’s venue, the Federal Government Press Building constructed in 1896 under the auspices of British colonial rule, can be seen as both a presentation space and one of the conceptual starting points of the project. Numerous relics from the past still evoke the building’s historical usage—it was used to house the state photographic archive into the mid-1990s and until ten years ago the official government gazettes were printed here—and these reminders are systematically incorporated into the exhibition’s concept and design. Voyage Retour picks up on this history and seeks to create a productive crossover space, intended as a platform for new discussions. The exhibition is designed with a particular eye to the specific conditions that pertain in the African countries south of the Sahara. It is against this background that a final colloquium titled Crossing Archives will be held with an international panel discussing overarching questions relating to the perspective, function and significance of photographic archives for society and artistic practice.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue in English and French produced by Steidl/Göttingen.
An exhibition project is presented by the Photography Department of the Museum Folkwang, Essen, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, Lagos, Nigeria
Opening: 16 November
One-day conference and panel discussion
Sunday 1 December, 10am–6pm
Venue: Goethe-Institut, City Hall, Lagos Island, Lagos, Nigeria
Photographic archives in African countries lying south of the Sahara have for some years been a focus of attention not only in international academic discussions but also for the global art market. At the same time, cultural collective visual memory in the period between the colonial era and the “postcolonial age” is increasingly being dealt with in artistic and curatorial practice. This has given rise to new archives that conform to their own political and aesthetic parameters. In light of these processes and perspectives and with a specific thematic focus on the situation in Nigeria, the conference will address the impact these different realms have had on archival practices, which has led to a re-examination, and in many cases an energisation, of existing systems for organising and categorising the archive material.
The conference is supported by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lagos.