University of Johannesburg
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VIAD is proud to host the fourth iteration of Autograph ABP’s internationally touring Black Chronicles programme, marking the first time that a wider selection of works from the series – and newly added imagery – are exhibited on the African continent.
Black Chronicles IV presents an extraordinary collection of photographic studio portraits, a majority produced in collaboration with the Hulton Archive from original nineteenth-century glass plates as large-scale modern silver gelatin prints.
“The aim of the Black Chronicles series is to open up critical inquiry into the archive to locate new knowledge, and support our ongoing mission to continuously expand and enrich photography’s cultural histories. Based on current research, the portraits unearthed as part of Black Chronicles constitute the most comprehensive body of photographs depicting the black subject in Victorian Britain.
Not only does the sitters’ visual presence in Britain bear direct witness to the complexities of colonial and imperial history, they also offer a fascinating array of personal narratives that defy pre-conceived notions of cultural diversity in the nineteenth century. Their complex studio portrayal opens up a dialogue around the politics of subjectivities and agencies in relation to visual representation: some are presented in ways that convey a sense of pride, dignity and respectability, while others are, arguably, still locked in ethnographic or colonial modes of representation.
At the heart of the exhibition is the desire to re-constitute the archive through what I call ‘remedial curatorial work’: resurrecting figures from archival vaults of oblivion, and re-introducing new, annotated narratives into contemporary consciousness.” – Renée Mussai
Presented by the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD) in partnership with Autograph and Tshisa Boys Productions.
Autograph is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.
The Missing Chapter/Black Chronicles was supported by Heritage Lottery Fund (UK) between 2013 – 2016. Black Chronicles IV is supported by British Council Connect ZA, The US Mission to South Africa, the National Research Foundation, and the University of Johannesburg. The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined sound-installation has been made possible through generous financial support from the South African Department of Arts and Culture (DAC).
Banner images: 1) Jaswantsinghji Fatehsinghji. London, 1887. By the London Stereoscopic Company. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images, and Autograph. 2, 3, 4) Black Chronicles IV gallery installation at FADA Gallery, Johannesburg. 5) Eleanor Xiniwe, The African Choir, 1891. London Stereoscopic Company. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images. 6) John Xiniwe and Albert Jonas, London Stereoscopic Company studios, 1891. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images.