Portraiture and Photography in Africa (African Expressive Cultures)

Portraiture and Photography in Africa (African Expressive Cultures)

John Peffer

Language: English

Pages: 472

ISBN: 0253008603

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Beautifully illustrated, Portrait Photography in Africa offers new interpretations of the cultural and historical roles of photography in Africa. Twelve leading scholars look at early photographs, important photographers’ studios, the uses of portraiture in the 19th century, and the current passion for portraits in Africa. They review a variety of topics, including what defines a common culture of photography, the social and political implications of changing technologies for portraiture, and the lasting effects of culture on the idea of the person depicted in the photographic image.

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enthusiast of photography) portraits of the Queen and the Royal Family were printed, painted, and engraved on various materials and came to be omnipresent throughout the British Empire.3 Evidently the appropriation of the West’s visual repertoire and practices did not occur without mutual misunderstandings, as the following incident shows: “When some natives took Catholic images brought to [Cuba] by Columbus’s men, buried them in a cultivated field and urinated on them in order to produce a rich

consequently on the production, consumption, and circulation of photographs. This patchwork of nations, institutions, and individuals finds its repercussion in the archive of the Atlantic visualscape. Doing research on the early history of African photography means that the material one works with is scattered over several continents. There, the photographs are kept in museums, libraries, and similar institutions that are owned and run by companies, foundations, governments, or mission societies.

object—a photograph that has been personally inscribed and imprinted—is no longer “just” an image, but most certainly is understood as a thing of great potency. On that note—a site where representation, intimacy, and power jostle together and in a sense cooperate—this volume may begin.1 NOTES 1. For those who would like to pursue some further reading in this field, the following publications may serve as useful entry points. On Chinese portrait paintings, see Vinograd 1992 and also Stuart and

commissioned as a personal souvenir by the German traders Schultze and Rusmann, directors of the Hamburg trading company C. Wörmann, during their trip on the Ogowe river. They may have included the image in their personal photo album. 58 Practically every trading station on the coast kept one or several photo albums.59 Detached from personal photo albums, photographs could easily move into the public image world and subsequently be reproduced and incorporated in other collections. This shift from

same material thing in Africa as it was in Europe, especially circa 1900 but also later. In Africa, photography has interpenetrated with ritual, with political and familial performances of status, with the establishment of modern civic institutions, with establishment of and resistance to metropolitan control over local affairs, with longstanding perceptions of the image of the body based in custom, and with other art media. The histories of powerful families were validated through the staged

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