June 8, 2010 - Walther Collection - Opens to the public with Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity
June 8, 2010

Opens to the public with Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity

Nontsikelelo (Lolo) Veleko
Nonkululeko, from the series “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”
© Nontsikelelo (Lolo) Veleko
courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

Events of the Self:
Portraiture and Social Identity

Opens 17 June 2010

Reichenauerstrasse 21
89233 Neu-Ulm


The Walther Collection opens to the public on June 17th, 2010 with “Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity,” introducing works from its African collection. Under the curatorial direction of Okwui Enwezor the exhibition comprises a series of four projects filling all nine galleries in the three buildings of the new exhibition space in Burlafingen near Ulm, Southern Germany. The inaugural exhibition will be open every week from Thursday to Sunday by appointment only, please contact: info@walthercollection.com. Admission is free.

“Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity” integrates the work of three generations of African artists and photographers with that of modern and contemporary German photography. This 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. In total, the exhibition presents 243 works by 32 artists. To support this curatorial vision, the galleries of the collection have been proportioned to respond to the different scales of photography and video and are distributed around three architectural typologies which house the exhibitions.

In The White Box a group exhibition of contemporary African artists working with photography, video installation, and slide projection will be on display: The works of artists like Yto Barrada, Romuald Hazoumè, Jo Ractliffe, Guy Tillim, Hentie van der Merwe or Samuel Fosso are organized around the issues of portraiture, portrayal, gender, performance, theatricality, and identity. A second floor gallery is dedicated to the work of Rotimi Fani-Kayode, showing a selection of the large color photographs of the late Nigerian-British artist, whose staged portraits of the 1980s explored issues of sexuality, eroticism, and identity.

A dual exhibition in The Green House focuses on portraiture and the idea of societal transition and social transformation. It features the magisterial and influential portraits of two modern masters: Seydou Keïta (Mali) and August Sander (Germany) and thus presents two contrasting moments of the twentieth century along with the cultural implications of photography in showing the changes these societies were undergoing while the portraits were being made. In both portrait series, the poses and gestures that the sitters adopt in front of the camera suggest the idea of the modern individual.
The Black House presents similar correspondences in the concepts of seriality and typologies in the works of Bernd and Hilla Becher (Germany), Malick Sidibé (Mali), and J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (Nigeria). Small selections from the series of black-and-white pictures of obsolete modern machinery by the Bechers, along with the severe black-and-white headshots by Ojeikere, in which he analyzes the subjects’ hairstyles, and Sidibé’s studio portraits of women and men photographed from the back, all provide a complement of both intuitive and formal approaches in the work of this generation of artists. Included in this group is Santu Mofokeng’s The Black Photo Album / Look At Me: 1890–1950, a video slide presentation of archival photographs of working- and middle-class black people dressed in complete Victorian attire dating as far back as the 1890s. The piece examines the anthropology of portraiture, self-representation, and colonialism in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century South Africa. It responds to the style of anthropological photographic documentations of Africans prevalent in the Victorian era, such as Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin’s photographic studies The Bantu Tribes of South Africa, a ten-volume work, which is presented for the first time here alongside Mofokeng’s work.

Steidl will publish a comprehensive book with full-page reproductions of all works in the exhibition, marking the starting point of the publication program of The Walther Collection. The book will be edited by Okwui Enwezor and will include contributions by himself as well as Virginia Heckert, Kobena Mercer, Chika Okeke-Agulu, Gabriele Conrath-Scholl, Deborah Willis and a conversation between Willis E. Hartshorn, director of the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, and Artur Walther.

Artists in Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity
Sammy Baloji, Oladélé Ajiboyé Bambgoyé, Yto Barrada, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Candice Breitz, Allan deSouza, Theo Eshetu, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Samuel Fosso, David Goldblatt, Kay Hassan, Romuald Hazoumè, Pieter Hugo, Seydou Keïta, Maha Maamoun, Boubacar Touré Mandémory, Salem Mekuria, Santu Mofokeng, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Zanele Muholi, James Muriuki, Ingrid Mwangi, Grace Ndiritu, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Jo Ractliffe, August Sander, Berni Searle, Malick Sidibé, Mikhael Subotzky, Guy Tillim, Hentie van der Merwe, Nontsikelelo (Lolo) Veleko.

About The Walther Collection
The Walther Collection is an international art collection dedicated to collecting and exhibiting contemporary photography and video art across recent historical periods and geographic regions. Its mission is to collect and present, through in-depth, annual exhibitions and a vigorous publishing program, works of historical and contemporary significance from artists working in Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world, whose enduring contributions to photography significantly expand the understanding, conception, and history of the medium. In addition, The Walther Collection also carefully collects a segment of modern and contemporary European and American photography, uniting the various focuses of the collection in lively, rigorous curatorial dialogue through thematic and conceptual relationships. The Walther Collection will be active in four areas: curatorial research, expanding the collection, the presentation of exhibitions, and the publication of books and catalogues. Each area will disseminate the work of artists from the collection and, at the same time, engage the works with a wider public and the field of contemporary art.

Press Contact:
Markus Müller
Bureau Mueller
Alte Schönhauser Straße 35
10119 Berlin
Tel.: +49 – 30 – 20188432, Fax: +49 – 30 – 20188575

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