Saturday, October 29, 2011

New York Times on Artur Walther's collection

Artur Walther has quietly built what might be the most important collection of African photography anywhere in the past decade or so. But only since last year when he opened his Collection's museum in Neue-Ulm, Germany and a project space in Chelsea, NY this year has he given the world the chance to appreciate the depth and breath of his photo collection (which apart from the African work is rich in contemporary Chinese photography). Just the other day when I visited him at his home in the company of Georgina Beier I was stunned by his as-yet-published collection of 19th and early 20th century photographs of Africans by Europeans. It would be great to see these in the context of an exhibition that might have the kind of images presented by Santu Mofokeng in his Black Photo Album (which Artur owns too) and other images by photographers such as Keita who he has collected in depth. Such a show will dramatize, in a spectacular fashion, the politics of subjectivity as they played out in photography during the colonial age. As it turned out, Artur is already thinking about such a project, and I look forward to it!
This article by the New York Times last week says something about the significance of the Walther Collection, and the positive impact his approach to collecting has had on artists like Jo Ractliffe (whose Nadir series of photomontage from the mid-1980s still give me the shivers) long-deserving of serious attention.

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