Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boys and girls - Photos d’identité - in colonial French Algeria

Charles Leinack
Black boy being blessed by a priest [Garçon noir béni par un prêtre]
1860 (ca)

Private collection of Michel Mégnin

Over the last few weeks I've been in contact with French collector and researcher Michel Mégnin in Toulouse as this online exhibition for Luminous-Lint has come together. The biographies of each of the photographers had to be updated or added in and we needed to get the backs of carte de visites where possible to illustrate them. We swapped texts backwards and forwards to create an introduction to explain the context.

The introduction begins with a quotation from the French orientalist painter and writer Eugène Fromentin from his book Un été dans le Sahara (1857):

"To go further that he should be allowed inside the Arab life seems to me a misunderstanding curiosity. We must look at this people from the distance where they are used to being shown: closed to men, far from women and never in bedroom or mesquita."

Thanks to Michel for his enthusiasm in pushing forward this exhibition.

There is an online exhibition of this series on Luminous-Lint.

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