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James Barnor: Ever Young

POSTED: 12 June 2020

The pioneering photographer James Barnor turned 91 this week. To celebrate, we’re making Autograph’s newspaper dedicated to his exhibition available as a free download







Born in 1929 in Accra, James Barnor is considered a pioneer of Ghanaian photography. His career spans six decades and covers a remarkable period in history, bridging continents and photographic genres to create transatlantic narratives marked by his passionate interest in people and culture. Through portraiture, James’ photographs represent societies in transition: Ghana moving towards its independence and London becoming a cosmopolitan, multicultural metropolis.

To celebrate his 91st birthday, we’re making Autograph’s James Barnor: Ever Young exhibition newspaper a free download. Get it here.

This was published in a limited edition of 3000 copies back in 2010 to accompany the photographer’s first major gallery exhibition held at Autograph, and has been out of print since. Alongside reproductions of more than 60 of James’ photographs, the newspaper includes the brilliant essay People Get Ready: James Barnor’s Route Map of Afro-Modernity by Kobena Mercer. From his essay:

“Photography is a distinctively modern medium. In the hands of African photographers, a camera reveals the various uneven ways modernity took root around the globe. Images by the Ghanaian photographer James Barnor, which are now being displayed for the first time as a collection, not only reveal a new nation making the transition to independence but, after he moved to the UK in the early 1960s, also throw light on the making of modern London as a multicultural world city. [ … ] The rediscovery of Barnor’s images today reveals how photographs have a diasporic life of their own. [ … ] In the research process of retrieval and reassembly that Autograph ABP has undertaken to unify Barnor’s disparate images into a holistic body of work, we have a kind of homecoming in which previously orphaned images are given a second life.”

This process of homecoming continues 10 years later, and we couldn’t be more pleased.

Happy Birthday once again James Barnor!





FIND OUT MORE


Download the James Barnor: Ever Young newspaper here

Autograph’s Senior Curator Renée Mussai reflects on James' legacy, on his 91st birthday

Our Shop is currently not shipping orders (we’re all working remotely during Covid-19), but add the James Barnor: Ever Young book to your post-lockdown reading list

And from the archive, watch our video of James Barnor narrating his story for the 2010 Ever Young exhibition

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Kobena Mercer's essay People Get Ready: James Barnor’s Route Map of Afro-Modernity was originally commissioned by New Humanist magazine.

Images, from top left: 1) James Barnor, Wedding Guests, London, 1960s. 2) James Barnor, Untitled #2 Accra, c.1972. 3) James Barnor: Ever Young newspaper cover. Published by Autograph, 2010 4) James Barnor, Olas Comedians, Ever Young Studio, Accra, c.1953-54.  5) James Barnor, Muhammad Ali training at Earls Court London, 1966. 

Photographs © James Barnor / Courtesy Autograph, London unless otherwise stated