'Stagings made in Namibia' - post-colonial photography
Twenty-five years after independence, what does post-colonial Namibia look like? Workers, unemployed people, students and farmers are among those who focused the camera lens on their own daily lives.
Disposable cameras for you and me
In 2007 two Germans, theater studies scholar Evelyn Annuss and artist Barbara Loreck, distributed disposable cameras to hundreds of Namibians as an experiment. They requested them to document how they see their country today, 25 years after independence, 25 years after the German colonial era, after occupation and liberation. This picture was taken by Paulus Jacobs, who lives in Lüderitz.
Germans had one plan, Namibians had another
"Our main goal was to get shots of what people think is 'Germanness' in Namibia," said Annuss in an interview with DW. "But what happened was something completely different. People were not so much interested in colonial history. Instead they staged their daily lives in front of the camera." Clemensia Haragaes took pictures of the Katutura neighbohood in Windhoek.
Camera here, camera there
More than 5,000 photographs were taken as the cameras made their way through Namibia. The photographers were supposed to write their names on the cameras. But authorship was not important to them. "We tried to find out who shot which pictures, but this was often not possible because people just weren't interested." Annuss thinks that the result is an art project in the best sense of the word.
From Windhoek to Switzerland
To mark the 25th anniversary of Namibia's independence on March 21, the Basler Afrika Bibliographien and the Namibian Embassy in Switzerland are displaying the photos in Basel and Geneva. In 2009 the Windhoek National Gallery put on an exhibition entitled "Staging made in Namibia." This photo taken by Memory Biwa was among the pictures on show.
Everyday pictures as works of art
Suddenly the photos of everyday life, many taken spontaneously, acquired an artistic aura: framed and hung in the National Art Gallery of Namibia. "It was extremely important for the photographers to see their work there, as most of them came from former townships or poor areas." This picture was taken by Marama Kavita, from Okakarara,Otjozondjupa.
The pictures often recall theater photos or film stills. "People dressed up and acted out certain roles in front of the camera," said Evelyn Annuss. Such pictures differ from the supposedly authentic postcard motifs or scenes of poverty specially arranged to create the maxim effect; pictures of Namibia which are often seen in Germany. Photo: Anke Langmaak: Carnival in Windhoek.
My daily life
A group of Herero women pose in front of igloo-like tents, a girl dresses up as a tourist and stands in front of a picture of a roaring stag, blue-eyed children celebrate carnival in Windhoek; snapshots of everyday life seen from different perspectives. This photo by Marama Kavita is called 'Herero Day in Okahandja.'
I show you how you see me
There were surprising moments, as the photographers "'undermined our view of life in Namibia," said Evelyn Annuss. The result could be summed up as "I show you how you see me," as depicted in this photo by Cesilie Benjamin. The exhibition in Basel and Geneva is accompanied by a catalog. Photo: Cesilie Benjamin, Otjiwarongo.