By PRISCA SAM-DURU& VERA SAMUEL ANYAGAFU
The cross cultural and historical exhibition titled “Voyage Retour” organised by the Goethe-Institut Lagos, in collaboration with the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Lagos, recently came to a resounding close with a colloquium titled “Crossing Archives”.
“Crossing Archives”, which featured historical images by African and European photographers, focused on African Photography archives from geographical reference areas on the African continent with internationally renowned art historians, artists and curators discussing on the issue with particular reference to Nigeria.
The Crossing Archives conference had eminent art curators, historians and specialists such as Okwui Enwezor, director of Munich-based Haus der Kunst, art historian at Princeto University and Bisi Silva, Director Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos.
Crossing Archives held three panel discussions that addressed the photographic archives of various geopolitical areas in African countries south of the Sahara. Aside from discussions tackling the larger picture, there were specific thematic focus on the situation in Nigeria. This was addressed and complemented with presentations drawn from archival and conservatorial practice in state institutions as well as private initiatives.
The “Voyage Retour” exhibition was opened by Marc-André Schmachtel, director of the Goethe-Institut Lagos, Mrs. Dorothee Janetzke-Wenzel, German Ambassador in Nigeria, and representatives of the Museum Folkwang at the Federal Government Press building, Broad Street in Lagos, courtesy of Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany.
Internationally renowned Nigerian photographer Pa J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (Collecting Culture and History), Malick Sidibe (Emancipation and social awakening), Robert Lebeck (Africa, Year Zero), Germaine Kroll (Propaganda and information), Wolgang Weber (Adventure and Mysticism), and Rolf Gillhausen (Political representation and perspective) were among veterans whose works were on display during the photography exhibition.
The Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Michael Derus, said Ojeikere and his works were at the opening reception for the exhibition on November 16 and turned out stars of that exhibition Ojeikere’s archive, it was noted now covers a period of about 60 years, while his pictures are like those of the other photographers featured in the exhibition.
The pictures according to Derus, tell of an Africa in the euphoria of independence. “But there is also a portrayal of post independent confusion that manifested in military coups and whatnot. From Nigeria to Mali, Guinea, Togo, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Senegal, among others, the pictures, presented in black and white, are the same
and yet different.
Voyage/Retour it was explained, created an effective space of cross-connections from which new discussions emerged. The exhibition was designed with a particular eye to the specific conditions that pertain to the African countries south of the Sahara.