Analogous body of works on show at MARKK Museum

by • September 4, 2022 • FeaturedArticle, NewsComments (0)246

By John Owoo

(In Hamburg – Germany)

Attention-grabbing images by Ghanaian artist Kelvin Haizel that address diverse memories and queried meanings of a collection of photos, are currently on show at the Museum am Rothenbaum Kulturen and Künste der Welt (MARKK) in the German port city of Hamburg.  

Originally owned by a German merchant and now in the possession of MARKK Museum, the images, which were shot in various parts of Singapore in the late 19th Century depict bygone days of this Asian country and the Malay Archipelago in general.

Its capital, also known as Singapore was largely cosmopolitan during the period with a large Indian, Tamil, Chinese and Malay populations. Indeed, this diversity – which is vividly depicted in the album – equally describes the country as a multi-ethnic state.

Curated by Gabriel Schimmeroth and Martha Kazungu, the collection offers a rare glimpse of life during one of Singapore’s least-examined years – they include landscapes, monuments, buildings, rich and poor people and ceremonies that are characterized by breath taking serenity.

Titled “Archive of Experiences”, Haizel scanned the non-digital black and white photos after a painstaking selection and consciously modified them with an intrinsic energy that ended up in an analogous body of works.

Through meticulous manipulations, he successfully plunged selected images from the passive album into a mass of works that confront the viewer while bringing alive pictures that have somehow evaded public view for a considerable length of time.

In the process, four installations emerged from his engagement while subtly avoiding an iconographic touch to these historical photographs. Consequently – he combined the images, which he scrutinized microscopically – with antique imagery in digital collages.

Undeniably, the works on display, offer a reflection of the emancipatory potential of these historical photographs in the context of power irregularities, which can also be read against the grain of hegemonic knowledge.

A 2022 MARKK in Motion Artist in Residence, Haizel is currently a PhD candidate at the Department of Painting and Sculpture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Kumasi) and a member of blaxTARLINES KUMASI and Exit Frame collectives. He has exhibited in Mali, South Africa, Switzerland, Denmark, Ghana and United States.

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg / Department of Culture and Media supported the exhibition, which is a project of MARKK in Motion, an initiative for ethnological collections of the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

The exhibition, which forms part of the 8th Triennial of Photography Hamburg, ends on Sunday October 16, 2022.

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