The Another

    “Open the album of the world”, the Quai-Branly shifts the point of view – Liberation




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    The exhibition re-examines the origins of photography, between the documentation of the colonies and the first works of the pioneers of Asia, Africa, Oceania and America.

    Leaning on the tripod of a camera, the elegant Francis W. Joaque, black face, white shirt and high-waisted trousers, poses for a self-portrait, around 1875. This descendant of a freed slave, born in Freetown in Sierra Leone and based in Libreville, Gabon, is a pioneer of photography in West Africa. His clientele was American missionaries, merchants and explorers. To run his shop, Joaque even represented himself in a loincloth on an adorable logo with an elephant and palm trees. This is the type of unexpected profile revealed by the fascinating exhibition “Opening the album of the world. Photographs (1842-1911)” at the Quai-Branly museum. Because native professionals such as Francis W. Joaque, there were a certain number of them, at the very beginning of photography.

    It is this somewhat forgotten memory that Christine Barthe and Annabelle Lacour, the two commissioners, are exploring. To write the world history of the first steps of the medium, taking care to leave a European-centric version, the two researchers went to find in Asia, Africa, Oceania and America, characters and stories little told, while based on the museum’s collections. In the catalogue, precious maps make it possible to locate these pioneers: they spread from Oklahoma City to Ushuaïa, from Melbourne to Papeete, from Istanbul to Yokohama, from Dakar to Antananarivo.

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