Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The Walther Collection opens in Ulm, Germany
Next week, June 12 The Walther Collection, which includes arguably the most important, far-ranging collection of modern and contemporary African photography will open with an exhibition, Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity organized by Okwui Enwezor. This is a significant event for students and scholars of African photography because Artur Walther, the owner of the collection, collects deeply, with impressive number of works by key photographers and artists such as Seydou Keita, Malick Sidibe, David Goldblatt, Okhai Ojeikere, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Samuel Fosso and others including Sammy Baloji, Oladélé Ajiboyé Bamgboyé, Yto Barrada, Candice Breitz, Allan deSouza, Theo Eshetu, Kay Hassan, Romuald Hazoumè, Pieter Hugo, Maha Maamoun, Boubacar Touré Mandémory, Salem Mekuria, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Zanele Muholi, James Muriuki, Ingrid Mwangi, Grace Ndiritu, Jo Ractliffe, Berni Searle, Mikhael Subotzky, Guy Tillim, Hentie van der Merwe, Nontsikelelo (Lolo) Veleko, and more. Enwezor's exhibition consists of 243 works by 32 artists and is organized, according to the exhibition prospectus, "into four projects filling all nine galleries in the three buildings of the new exhibition space. It integrates the work of three generations of African artists and photographers with that of modern and contemporary German photography and is designed
around three discursive frameworks: portraiture and social transition, typologies and taxonomies, and theatricality and figuration. The combination of African and German works will serve as a model for the kind of curatorial process that animates the character of the collecting program." I reckon that the this Collection will be the research Mecca for scholars of African photography for years to come.
Equally of interest is the book, Contemporary African Photography from The Walther Collection: Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity edited by Okwui Enwezor. This 448-page book with more than 250 images adds to the growing number of major texts on the subject. It includes essays by Kobena Mercer, Virginia Heckert, Santu Mofokeng, Virginia Conrath-Scholl, Deborah Willis and munwa (or me, in French), plus a conversation between Willis E. Hartshorn of ICP and Artur Walther.
Given how quickly it has take Artur Walther and Enwezor (who serves as curatorial consultant) to build this collection and the beautiful facilities in , and the fact that it continues to grow, I cannot imagine what the surplus thrill of trips to Neu-Ulm in coming years. Anyways, I am also hoping that the German embassy will give me a multi-year Schengen visa so I can go, anytime my purse allows.
To visit The Walther Collection website, click here