Emergence de nouveaux corpus : Solomon Osagie Alonge (1911–1994)

Un article paru récemment sur le site Hyperallergic – Rare Portraits of Kings and Commoners from 20th-Century Nigeria (par Allison Meier, le 21 octobre 2014) – revient sur le parcours du photographe Solomon Osagie Alonge (1911–1994), dont les clichés sont actuellement présentés dans le cadre de l’exposition “Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria”, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC, du 17 septembre 2014 au 15 septembre 2015 (communiqué de presse).

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Le site du musée reporte : “Chief Alonge’s legacy includes 60 years of photography—an archive of over 3,000 images that represents an unprecedented visual history of Benin royalty and society in the 20th century.”

Par ailleurs, s’il est intéressant qu’un magazine d’art en ligne rende compte du parcours de Solomon Alonge, le considérer comme l’un des premiers photographes ouest-africains est quelque peu inexact : “Born in 1911, he started with a Kodak Brownie and worked his way up to his own studio in Benin City called Ideal Photography Studio, establishing himself among the first professional West African photographers.” (Allison Meier, Hyperallergic, oct. 2014)

Il n’est qu’à relire les travaux sur l’histoire de la photographie dans cette région parus récemment, dont l’excellent article de Jürg Schneider, “Demand and Supply: Francis W. Joaque, an Early African Photographer in an Emerging Market”, Visual Anthropology, 27, 4, (2014), pp. 316-338 :

“In the early history of photography in West and Central Africa there is a strange lapse in time between the photography of Augustus Washington and the first African-born photographers, such as John Parkes Decker, Gerhardt Ludwig Lutterodt, Fred Grant, Shadrack Albert St John and Francis W. Joaque. Washington’s daguerreotypes were taken in the early 1850s, but the earliest existent photographic prints are Decker’s, taken in Gorée, Senegal, in 1867. From a technical point of view this gap may indicate the transition from the daguerreotype, a unique object, to glass-plate negatives whence numerous prints could be produced. Thus the probability of locating surviving prints is much great than finding intact daguerreotypes. Yet it may also suggest Decker and his contemporaries were actually the first generation of West African photographers while Washington, the first known daguerreotypist, was an early and isolated case.” (p. 320)


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