This exhibition was at autograph 9 SEPTEMBER - 8 DECEMBER 2017.
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In the early 1900s, the missionary Alice Seeley Harris produced what was probably the first photographic campaign in support of human rights.
These pioneering photographs publicly exposed the violent consequences of human rights abuses in the Congo Free State. They are exhibited alongside newly commissioned work from contemporary Congolese artist Sammy Baloji.
Seeley Harris exposed the atrocities that underpinned King Leopold II’s regime in the Congo Free State, bringing to public attention the plight of the Congolese people under a violent and oppressive regime.
Alice Seeley Harris
was born in 1870 in Malmesbury, UK. With the aid of her husband Reverend John Harris, she photographed the atrocities committed in the Congo Free State by King Leopold II’s regime and agents. Harris’ photographs circulated widely in the press and reproduced as lantern slides illustrating lectures by the Congo Reform Association. This exposure resulted in international political pressure on King Leopold II, eventually forcing him to relinquish absolute rule over the Congo Free State in 1908. Harris was an active member of Anti-Slavery International. She died in 1970, aged 100.
Sammy Baloji Baloji was born in 1978 in Lubumbashi, DRC. He uses photography, film, montage, and archives to explore his native country’s colonial past and political present. Baloji’s groundbreaking work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris; the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium; and the Tate Modern, London. In 2007, he was twice awarded at the Bamako Biennale; and in 2009, he received the prestigious Prince Claus Foundation award. In 2010, Baloji co-founded the non-profit collective Picha and the biennial Rencontres Picha to support the development of local artistic practices. He currently lives and works between Lubumbashi and Brussels.
11am - 6pm
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11am - 9pm
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12 noon - 6pm
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Anti Slavery International
Anti-Slavery International works at local, national and international levels to eliminate all forms of slavery around the world. The Harris Lantern Slide Collection is owned by Anti-Slavery International, and currently managed by Autograph ABP. We have been working together since 2009 to share this important archive with a wider audience.
International Slavery Museum, Liverpool
The International Slavery Museum explores historical and contemporary aspects of slavery. The museum will present a partnering exhibition in Liverpool, to coincide with Congo Dialogues at Rivington Place
Banner images: 1) 1) Alice Seeley Harris, Manacled members of a chain gang at Bauliri. A common punishment for not paying taxes, Congo Free State, c. 1904. Courtesy Anti-Slavery International / Autograph. 2) Alice Seeley Harris / J.H. Harris, Alice Seeley Harris with a large group of Congolese children, Congo Free State, c.1904. Courtesy Anti-Slavery International / Autograph. 3-4) Congo Dialogues gallery installation at Autograph, London. Photograph: Zoe Maxwell.