Montag, 10. September 2018

Exhibition. Inner Africa. Contemporary Photography by Uwe Michael Neumann. Curator Lily Fürstenow at gh36. 1.10-10.10.2018. Große Hamburgerstr. 36. 10115 Berlin


 Inner Africa. Uwe Michael Neumann
opening 2 Oct. 2018. 7 p.m. 
Gh36 Große Hamburgerstr. 36. Berlin-Mitte

Text Lily Fürstenow. Curator

Project space GH36 is pleased to announce the exhibition Inner Africa presenting works byphotographer Uwe Michael Neumann together with historical objects from his private African collection. The photographic diary of central African dazzling land- and seascapes, moments from everyday life in big cities, snapshots of animals span throughout the 3 years of the photographer's life and work in various central African states. The historical statuettes, masks and other ritual objects from his private collection - many of which are rare and valuable collectibles - impress and kindle our admiration for African art, ethnology, rituals and customs. Among the ongoing discourse on the issue of restitution to the African museums of the valuable objects once taken away and now parts of big museum collections all over the world – the pieces from this private collection present a small yet rich portion of the enormous African cultural heritage within the postcolonial discourse. How much do we actually know about Africa except for the established clichéesof exotic nature, safari and promise of adventure? To what extent is this exhibition a projection of our fantasies about this vast continent with its traumatic past and it's troubled present? Just to note - it was in Berlin in year 1888 when the European imperial powers met to divide the African continent into colonies – which was a purely bureaucratic procedure of drawing borders – actually rectangular areas of land - that were subsequently distributed as colonies between the European empires of the time – all this irrespective of the actual borders of the existing African countries. Since then not much has changed about the state borders in Africa. This exhibition wouldn't solve all these issues but just point to them.

The following masks are from the private collection of Photographer Uwe Michael Neumann, who collected them during his stay in Africa. 


Figurine 1 and 2 are from the ancient kingdom of Benin. They were used as "passports" to identify a person. Since these
 are in bronze, they were for men of higher standing. Diplomatic passports, so to speak. 

Figure 3 is a panther. The panther was the symbol of the ancient kingdom of Benin which was in what is now Nigeria 
(It has nothing to do with the modern state of Benin).

These three figurines are from the end of the 19th century. Their empire was destroyed at the end of the 19th century by the British.

The first mask is from the Tikar Bamoun in Cameroon. It was used as a ceremonial mask for the coronation of the king.  It is from around 1880.

The second mask is from Tounu in Gabon. It was worn at the celebration of the 15th birthday of a girl to celebrate
 her new status as grown-up. It is from around 1930.

The third and largest mask is from northern Equatorial Guinea where the Fang live. They are also in Gabon and 
Cameroon. It is a ceremonial mask from 1910.

All these items were bought from local chieftains (chefféries).





All images courtesy of Uwe Neumann


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