Antwerp – Starting tomorrow, the Antwerp Photo Museum will present two new exhibitions. First, there’s Studio of Life, which provides an overview of James Barnor’s career. Her voice – echoes of Chantal Akerman It showcases photo and video works by seven contemporary artists, inspired by Belgian director Chantal Akerman. The two exhibitions will continue until Sunday, March 10, 2024.
James Barnorse is a Ghanaian, born in 1929. His diverse talent and poignant images make him a pioneer in the history of photography. This exhibition not only highlights Parnor’s rich oeuvre, but also highlights the cultural links between Accra, London and Antwerp. Barnor opened his own photography studio in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, in 1949. From 1951, Barnor worked as one of the first photojournalists for local media. His studio work and street photography capture the pride and joy of the vibrant city of Accra on the cusp of independence.
In 1959, two years after Ghana’s independence, Barnor moved to the United Kingdom. The photographs he took there provide insight into the lives of the black diaspora. In London and Kent he discovered the possibilities of color photography. Since 1961 he has mastered his craft at Medway College of Art. He later worked at Color Processing Laboratories, a color photography laboratory in Kent. Meanwhile, he was working as a photographer for the South African magazine Drum. Many of his photographs of black models appeared on the covers of the magazine.
In 1969, James Barnor spent several months in Belgium. In Mortsel, he trained at the Agfacolor School, where he mastered the unique development process of Agfa-Gevaert. After a decade of working to improve his photography skills artistically and technically, he returned to Ghana in 1970. He opened the first color photography laboratory in Accra and became a representative of Agfa-Gevaert.
Three years later, Barnor opened his own Studio X23 and photographed Ghana’s colorful and turbulent 1970s and 1980s. During this period, Barnor’s passion for music emerged. He photographed musicians for covers of famous records and became the manager of the band Fee Hii. In 1994 he returned to London, where he lives to this day. Studio of Life not only provides an overview of Barnor’s work, but also presents a part of world history from a perspective that has not been exposed to for a long time.
Chantal Akerman presents the photo and video works of seven contemporary artists: Manon de Boer, Moira Davey, Gaby Laurent, Frida Oropiapo, Joanna Piotrowska, Collier Schorr, and Carmen Winant, exploring what it means to be a woman, artist, mother, daughter or lover today. .
To this day, Chantal Akerman (1950-2015) remains an important source of inspiration for artists. As an artist, Akerman always starts from personal experiences and reflections on sexuality, family, trauma, intimacy, and oppression. Her radically vulnerable approach was groundbreaking in the film and art worlds of the 1970s. Half a century later, Ackerman’s approach is still viewed by many as a more powerful feminist gesture than ever before. Her Voice brings together new and recent works by seven leading artists. Some of them in this exhibition point to specific works and ideas by Akerman that influenced their art.
In this exhibition, the Lumiere Cinema shows films by Chantal Akerman and others. On Friday, February 23, 2024, FOMU is organizing a night party in collaboration with the feminist artist group Dis Mon Nom. Ackermann’s work and legacy are also being given attention elsewhere, including the Contour Biennale (Mechelen) and the Argos (Brussels). BOZAR and Cinematek (Brussels) are organizing a retrospective in the spring. (Photo by James Barnor – Muhammad Ali training at a camp in Earl’s Court, London in 1966).