Reinterpreting Historical Photographs

Edition III (2016-2017)

Le passé du pays interrogé par ses adolescents

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Edition II (2015-2017)

Multiple gazes of a country's photographed past


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Edition I (2014-2015)

Reinterpreting Historical Phtographs Festival, Limbe, Buea and Douala (Cameroon)

26-31 January 2015

From 26 to 31 January 2015 the works of the artists who had responded to African Photography Initiatives’ Call for Art Interventions and invitation to work with the historical photographs from the Cameroon Press Photo Archives Buea were exhibited in Buea, Limbe and Douala. The venues attracted a mixed crowd of students, academics and citizens who enjoyed the historical photographs and the way the artists had brought these images from the 1960s and 70s to new life and significance.


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Venue: Municipality Hall, Down Beach, Limbe
Adalberto Abbate, Italy, Africa
Cecile Hummel, Switzerland, To point on pointing or the gesture of showing
NSA (Maite Cajaraville and Gisle Frøysland), Spain-Norway, NSA meets CPPA
Hillie de Rooij, Netherlands, La Mallette
Ibrahima Thiam, Senegal, Le mure qui parle
Venue: CURELF (Ex-Alliance Franco Camerounaise), Clerks Quaters, Buea
Thais Medina, Brasil, The Buea Cronicles
Luis Mena, Spain, El bosque de la memoria
Caecilia Tripp/Pascale Obolo, Germany-Cameroon, Colonial architecture and body memory
Pascale Obolo and Anne Gregory, Cameroon-US, The De-Construction/Re-Construction of Memory
Venue: Pan African Institute for Deveklopment PAID-WA, Buea
Timidos profanos (The Profane Shies), Mexico , Imprisoned(Archives)
Erika Nimis, Canada, Independence, Welcome, We are happy to receive you
Venue: Institut Francaise, Douala
NSA (Maite Cajaraville and Gisle Frøysland), Spain-Norway, NSA meets CPPA

These artworks are based on photographs from the Press Photo Archives Buea. The artists have intensely worked with a selection of 90 of those images which have been provided by African Photography Initiatives in order to elaborate their individual interpretation of the historical photographs taken between 1955 and 1980.

All references to this derived works must clearly state the copyright holder of the photographs (©MINCOM) on which the work is based. Any further use of these artworks beyond the scope of the present project is subject to the South West Delegation of Communication’s written consent. African Photography Initiatives is happy to help the artists in this matter.


Related articles:

Afrique In Visu, 2 Mars 2015






















Call for Art Interventions                                                                                             PDF en francais



Between 2013 and 2014 the Press Photo Archives Buea, Cameroon have been digitized. The international conference Validating Visual Heritage in Africa: Historical Photographs and the Role of the “Archive” taking place in Buea (Cameroon) in January 2015 will mark the completion of the two-year project, EAP542 , carried out by African Photography Initiatives.

Expanding the academic frame and in order to further promote a critical engagement with the Archives’ rich visual material African Photography Initiatives solicits contributions from artists using the material of the Press Photo Archives Buea for an art intervention. The selected art works will be exhibited in Buea during the conference and accessible to the public. Furthermore, the selected art works will be included in future events and media promoting the project and Africa Photography Initiatives.

Detailed information about the whole project and the conference

Who can participate?

Artists from Cameroon and abroad

Working basis

Since the Archives comprise approximately 120.000 negatives a selection of 90 photographs grouped into three themes will be provided as a working basis for the artists. The three following transversal themes are proposed in order to facilitate and structure the artists' approach.

     1. Times of Transition and Change

The photographers of the state’s Information Service covered all important political and social events in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions between 1955 and 2000. Bridging the country’s colonial and precolonial period and documenting the period before and after independence as well as many other key moments of Cameroon’s recent history the material provides a rich basis for a critical examination of the past and present.

     2. Rituals of Power and Leisure

Before TV being the principal instruments of the Cameroonian state’s internal and external visual communication, the Press Photo Archives Buea open a window to more than 40 years of state protocolary and ritual narratives as well as to cultural and leisure events.

     3. Actors and Participants

The Archive highlights (but also omits) for the main part persons of public interest such as traditional leaders and politicians. However, beyond that, the spectrum of visual portraits includes participants of political rallies, protagonists of public social events as well as ordinary people who happened to be, for various reasons, of interest for the government photographers.

Submission Guidelines

- Artists interested in participating are required to pre-register by sending a short CV before August 30, 2014 by email (ref: CFAI) to Esta dirección de correo electrónico está protegida contra spambots. Usted necesita tener Javascript activado para poder verla.

- Admitted artists will be given access to all 90 photographs on the website of African Photography Initiatives. High resolution images to work with will be provided on demand.

- Deadline for the submission of the portfolios containing a brief and concise description of the intervention, the art work itself as well as information regarding the technical requirements for its realisation is December 1, 2014. Portfolios shall be sent by email to Esta dirección de correo electrónico está protegida contra spambots. Usted necesita tener Javascript activado para poder verla.

- Submissions are judged by an internationally sourced jury, with the winning entries be exhibited in Buea, Cameroon, during the conference. The artists whose work has been selected will be asked to provide their art work in a format and quality suited for production.

- All art works remain the property of the artists and African Photography Initiatives will only use them in the framework of the Press Photo Archives Buea project. Copyrights of the images provided remain with the Ministry of Communication and will be clearly declared.