Distance and Desire I
Santu Mofokeng and A.M. Duggan-Cronin

9/13/2012 — 11/17/2012

Sm 876 Walthercollection Santumofokeng Blackphotoalbum

Conceptual Framework

A three-part exhibition series on photography from Southern Africa, "Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive" presents rarely before seen portraits, albums, cartes de visite, and books from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The exhibitions stage a dialogue between ethnographic visions and contemporary engagements with archival imagery and feature recent work by African and African American artists. "Distance and Desire" offers new perspectives on the archive, reimagining its poetic and political dimensions, its diverse histories, and its changing meanings.

The first exhibition juxtaposes Santu Mofokeng's "The Black Photo Album / Look at Me: 1890–1950" with A.M. Duggan-Cronin's "The Bantu Tribes of South Africa." Duggan-Cronin's eleven-volume study, published between 1928–1954, is renowned and contested for preserving an ethnographic vision of African heritage. In contrast, "The Black Photo Album," created in 1997 by South African artist Santu Mofokeng, is an archive of pictures—commissioned by black South Africans in the early twentieth century—and stories about the subjects, challenging fixed ideas of the "native type" most often associated with photographic representations of Africans.

For further information, please see our exhibition guide.

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