Passageways of Photography. Figurations of the Particular in the Portraiture of Chinese-African Encounters
In his work ‘Little North Road’, the US-American photographer Daniel Traub portrays the encounter of Chinese street photographers and African tourists in the southern Chinese trading hub Guangzhou. The outcomes are portraits of and by itinerant individuals that document intercultural encounters on a pedestrian bridge that serves as a symbolic gateway into China from Africa. The portraits document a historical moment which, in the meantime, has passed, as street photography is no longer permitted on the bridge. Thus, both the portraits and their subjects could be interpreted as figurations of the particular.
In this Encounter, academic researchers, curators and art practitioners come together to talk about aesthetic, social and intercultural aspects reflected in the portraits of temporary African-Chinese encounters. The anthropologist Michaela Pelican and the art historian Birgit Mersmann, who study portrait photography in relation to contemporary migration contexts, will meet with the curator and researcher Mi You and the photographer Daniel Traub. The discussion will center on the following questions: How does photography shape migratory encounters and cross-cultural representations? Which are the linkages to aesthetic traditions of photography (i.e. African and Chinese studio portrait photography, street photography, tourist photography)? What does it mean to photograph in public spaces in China? Whose photographs are these? What is the role of the photobook for claiming authorship?
Moderated by Michaela Pelican (Cultural and Social Anthropology, Cologne) and Birgit Mersmann (Art History, Essen)