Recent Histories
Contemporary African Photography and Video Art from The Walther Collection

Huis Marseille. Museum for Photography, Amsterdam
12/8/2018 — 3/3/2019

Walthercollection Petrosdawit Strangersnotebook

About the exhibition

In a unique collaboration between The Walther Collection and Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, Recent Histories presents an exhibition of photographic work by fifteen contemporary African artists, as a dialogue between two collections with African photography at their core. Expanding upon The Walther Collection's 2017 exhibition of the same name, this reinterpretation brings together both a new generation of rising African artists with well-established figures, resonating intellectually and conceptually through their creative practices. Featured photographers hail from across the African continent and diaspora, many showing in The Netherlands for the first time—such as Mimi Cherono Ng'ok, Em'kal Eyongakpa, Délio Jasse, Sabelo Mlangeni, Dawit L. Petros, and Michael Tsegaye—as well as a tribute to the legendary South African photographer David Goldblatt, among fellow South Africans Pieter Hugo, Santu Mofokeng, Zanele Muholi, and Guy Tillim.

Mc 4557 Walthercollection Mimicherono The Other Country 2008
Mimi Cherono Ng'ok, Chebet, "The Other Country," 2008-ongoing
Mc 4554 Walthercollection Mimicherono The Other Country 2008
Mimi Cherono Ng'ok, Chemu, "The Other Country," 2008-ongoing

The varied bodies of work on view are drawn from the holdings of both The Walther Collection and Huis Marseille. They are linked by explorations of personal experience, wherein questions of identity and belonging, and an array of sociopolitical concerns—including migration, lineage, and the legacies of colonialism are particularly salient. With compositional acuity and independence of vision, the artists' depictions of daily life, portraiture, and images of the landscape, public space, and architecture provide multiple entry points to engage critically with current prac­tices in Africa. In delineating the layers of approach, subject matter, method, and content for each artist, this exhibition attempts to deepen and extend the expectations and capabilities of what existing discourses of African photography and video art provide.

Mt 4129 Walthercollection Tsegaye Michael Futurememories6
Michael Tsegaye, Future Memories #6, "Future Memories," 2009
Mt 4131 Walthercollection Tsegaye Michael Futurememories8
Michael Tsegaye, Future Memories #8, "Future Memories," 2009

In this current, historic moment—with the worldwide swing away from neoliberalism and freedom of mobility, as well as the proliferation of digital platforms and social media usage—the geopolitical notion of the "African" is further complicated and refracted. As such, Recent Histories seeks to reconcile the notion of "Africanness" precisely through its treatment of particular artists' practices, rather than through regional association, or existing academic discourses and prefigured concepts. This proposition––now further expanded in this collaborative exhibition––signals a conceptual break with pre­vailing approaches for amplifying the work of African artists in the mainstream across several generations.

Mn Walthercollection Niang Mame Vivencia Metropolis
Mame-Diarra Niang, Vivencia, "Metropolis," 2015
Mn Walthercollection Niang Mame Monument1B Metropolis
Mame-Diarra Niang, Monument Ib, from the series "Metropolis," 2015

Recent His­tories also centers the practices of artists not only work­ing inside Africa, but also those who work from within, across, throughout, and beyond the continent. As a result, this exhibition acknowledges the complexities and differing conceptions that can resound through each urban space, personal mem­ory, or social community portrayed. By privileging the artistic practice as a means of bridging gaps across space, the exhibition seeks to underscore the intensity of the continent's current moment of creative production. Ultimately, while grappling with social, political, and interpersonal tensions, these artists deploy the medium with universal, humanistic intent: telling stories of those made visible and invisible, and inviting us to see more closely.

Sml 4212 Walthercollection Mlangeni Sabelo Outsidebismilla Bigcity
Sabelo Mlangeni, Outside Bismilla house on President Street, "Big City," 2012
Sml 4172 Walthercollection Mlangeni Sabelo Womanandcity Bigcity
Sabelo Mlangeni
Woman and City, "Big City," 2012

Artworks on display

    Artists on display

    About Huis Marseille

    Founded in 1999, Huis Marseille was Amsterdam's first photography museum. It is situated in two monumental 17th century canal houses, and houses a collection of over 500 photographs with a special interest in contemporary Dutch, South African, and Japanese work. In September 2013, the museum was expanded to include the neighboring building, providing a total of fourteen unique exhibition spaces, including original architectural details. The museum offers a rich and varied exhibition program with changeovers about four times per year.


    Huis Marseille. Museum for Photography
    Keizersgracht 401
    1016 EK Amsterdam
    The Netherlands
    +31 20 531 89 89

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