Abu Dhabi: The development of photography in its first years of existence will be the focus of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s second international exhibition for 2019, the museum announced in a statement on Sunday.
The exhibition, which will run from April 2 to July 13, will include more than 250 images taken in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
It will be organised by Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Paris-based musée du quai Branly — Jacques Chirac, and the Agence France-Muséums, and sponsored by the Bank of Sharjah.
According to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the exhibition will track the dissemination of photography as a form of documentation and an instrument of discovering and understanding the world and its people, through a selection of photographs taken between 1842 and 1896.
“Photography is one of the most important tools that has contributed to documenting the history of the world and its diverse cultures. In order to showcase part of our inspiring human heritage, we [therefore] present the exhibition Photographs 1842 — 1896: An Early Album of the World at Louvre Abu Dhabi. It will be yet another example of the richness of Abu Dhabi’s cultural scene, which is a mix of the world’s cultures and arts. When visiting Louvre Abu Dhabi this summer, visitors will be able to travel to new places and explore different regions of the world through the eyes of 19th Century European travellers,” said Mohammad Al Mubarak, chairman at the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi.
Photography was invented in 1839, when several European nations expanded their colonial empires to territories in Africa, Asia, America and the Middle East, driven by an insatiable quest of discovery.
Subsequently, the art crossed the borders of Europe and the seas, accompanying religious missions, scientific, diplomatic and military expeditions and even individual travellers. At this time, photography was seen as an alternative to experiencing the world from afar.
These images, then considered as ‘real’ reflections of the world, now offer a panorama of historic, and at times, outdated ways of looking at foreign lands and other people from a distinctly European, often Eurocentric, perspective.
Visitors will be able to discover works by prominent international photographers, including Luis Garcia Hevia from Colombia, the Abdullah brothers and Pascal Sebah from Turkey, Lala Deen Dayal from India, Marc Ferrez from Brazil, Lai Fong from China, Kassian Cephas from Indonesia, Alexandre Michon and Nikolai Charushin from Russia, Francis Chit from Thailand, as well as Ichida Sôta and Suzuki Shin’ichi II from Japan.
“We are looking forward to Louvre Abu Dhabi’s first photography exhibition. Pioneering photographers played a key role in making other cultures visible and accessible to people back home, the same way our audiences record their daily experiences to share them with their family, friends and online communities,” said Manuel Rabaté, director of Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The exhibition also has a special connection to the Arabian Gulf and will feature the first photographs taken in the Middle East. Highlights will include the earliest photographic images of Saudi Arabia and Yemen by Auguste Bartholdi, and the first photographic picture of Mecca by Egyptian photographer Sadiq Bey.
The show will highlight historic photographs from the Philippines, including works by Pedro Picon, the creator of one of the earliest photographs in the country. An album from musée du quai Branly — Jacques Chirac, which is presented in the exhibition, contains an early selection of studio portraits of Filipino subjects in visiting-card format.
Lala Deen Dayal, considered the best Indian-born photographer of his time, will be represented with views of Bombay, Hyderabad, and a Portrait of the Maharajah de Orchla dated 1882. In India, photography was of interest to many ruling families at this time. Dayal quickly established himself as the photographer of the nobility, notably documenting the Royal Tour of the Prince and Princess of Wales through India in 1875-76.
Alongside the exhibition, Louvre Abu Dhabi will host a range of educational and cultural activities around the topic of photography, including workshops, four film screenings, a conference and a cine-concert entitled In the Land of the Head Hunters on the exhibition’s opening weekend.