Music Camp 2017
Exhibition “Usakos – Photographs beyond the ruins”
The exhibition USAKOS: Photography Beyond Ruins opens on July 6 at 6:00 pm at Camões - Portuguese Cultural Center in Maputo and shows three private collections of historical photography preserved by four women living in the small Namibian city of Usakos.
With the curatorship of Paul Grendon, Giorgio Miescher, Lorena Rizzo and Tina Smith, the exhibition consists of mobile panels with black and white photographs selected from the collections of women residing in Usakos, which come into dialogue with contemporary color photographs of Author of Paul Grendon. Historical information and two large maps are also presented. The exhibition presented at the Camões - Portuguese Cultural Center in Maputo is a traveling version of the permanent exhibition, based on Usakos. Previously to Maputo, during the month of May and June, USAKOS: Photography beyond Ruins was in Pretoria (South Africa) and after Maputo, travel to Windhoek (Namibia).
Usakos has developed as one of the main axes of the first railway system German, and later South African, in Namibia. Its urban morphology became strongly marked by the policies of apartheid urban planning and segregation.
The photographic collections preserved by the four resident women capture the rich physical and social landscape of the old town between the 1920s and 1960s. Most of the images were taken by local or itinerant African photographers, and evidence a vibrant aesthetic and visual culture In a cosmopolitan environment that opposes the restrictions and constraints imposed by an uncompromising racial politics.
The resonances that the old photographic collections produce in the past, present, and future are taken up by Paul Grendon by tracing the layers of Usakos' experience, from colonialism to apartheid, which nevertheless remain visible in the physical and social landscape of the city.
As a result of a cooperation agreement between the University of Basel in Switzerland and the University of Namibia, students from both institutions participated in the conceptualization and assembly of the exhibition and were mainly responsible for their research dimension. With the support of the Basler Afrika Bibliographien in Switzerland, a catalog was produced which includes essays on photography and the urban history of Usakos, as well as images organized in two sections: black and white photographs featuring collectors and their historical collections; A section of color with the images produced by Paul Gredon.