AFRICA IN VISU WAS BORN IN 2006. AT THE ORIGIN OF THIS COLL ABOR ATIVE PROJECT, THE QUESTIONING OF JE ANNE MERCIER AND BAPTISTE DE VILLE D’AVR AY: HOW TO PROMOTE AFRICAN PHOTOGR APHY AND SHARE IT? TEN YE ARS L ATER, THEY CELEBR ATE THE PHOTOGR APHIC OCCUPATION AROUND A PHOTO EXHIBITION AT THE ZINSOU FOUNDATION IN COTONOU, BENIN, AND THE RELE ASE OF THEIR BOOK ‘THE PR ACTICE OF PHOTOGR APHY IN AFRICA, 10 YE ARS OF AFRICA IN VISU’. HAMAJI MAGAZINE GIVES THE FLOOR TO JEANNE MERCIER AND BAPTISTE DE VILLE D’AVR AY.
In 2006, we launched the Africa in Visu platform in Bamako.This collaborative project was born from an observation: in the early 2000s, the photographic sector in Africa was suffering from major shortcomings: lack of structures, lack of training, a weak and inconsistent cultural policy. Existing structures collaborated little and did not take advantage of the skills of neighboring countries, whose problems were closer and more adapted to the terrain than those in countries of the global North. It is at this pivotal moment that, in order to overcome these shortcomings, several researchers and photographers each sought in their own way to design collaborative tools. For some, it was through the creation of collectives, for others, festivals or web platforms.
From our side, the first idea was to imagine a network present throughout the whole continent which, starting from the technical and theoretical skills specific to each country, would be enriched by exchanges of know-how and knowledge. On the Web platform, the diversity and the differences of the photographic practices emanating from the continent are illustrated in articles: so many approaches, sometimes even contradictory, of the photographer occupation. No ranking, or any attempt to claim the existence of a history of African photography. Just a single leitmotiv: a territory, a continent, Africa. To celebrate the ten years of Africa in Visu, we have imagined both a photographic exhibition at the Zinsou Foundation in Cotonou, Benin, and a book. Two complementary projects that intersect through their contents. Both are born out of our questions: how to tell ten years of photographic creation or to synthesize more than a thousand articles?
10 years later. More than a year of work with Éditions Clémentine de la Féronnière. And here is the book ‘The practice of photography in Africa, 10 years of Africa in Visu’, published on October 10. A book that uses as an excuse the Africa in Visu platform, to tell stories about the 10 years of photographic creation in Africa. So many stories on the continent through its photographers who seek to detach, to supplant, to divert all the images and stereotypes associated with it.
For the present exercise, the idea: to call on a panel of specialists, historians, curators and journalists, and republish in a context of print edition, part of the content of a website that was essential to the dissemination of the practice of photography in Africa.
Thus one will find in this book the essays of Erika Nimis, Olivia Marsaud and Simon Njami around which are articulated interviews and reviews conducted between 2006 and 2017 for the Africa in Visu platform.
One will also discover interviews of Sammy Baloji, Malick Sidibe, Namsa Leuba, Roger Ballen or Lebohang Kganye and reviews of the ‘Rencontres Picha Lubumbashi’ or even the exhibition of Samuel Fosso at the Zinsou Foundation. Three portfolios complete this work: Nicola Lo Calzo, Camille Millerand and Baudouin Mouanda. The book ends with a activist conclusion by Commissioner François Cheval and a cartography of the events / photographic places of the continent.