Photos of Central Africa: 1885-1960

Woman, Katanga, Belgian Congo

In and Out of Focus: images from Central Africa 1885-1960.

Hundreds of thousands of photographs from central Africa circulated as postcards, stereographs and illustrations between 1885, when the region came under the colonial domination of the Belgian crown, France and Portugal, and 1960, when central African countries gained their independence. The images reached viewers around the globe and perpetuated ideas and fictions about African peoples. Many of these images are still being published. Their creators–photographers with diverse backgrounds and agendas–their distributors and consumers imbued them with different meanings, a process that continues even today. This exhibition examines the multiple narratives contained in these images and traces some of the meanings constructed for them over time.

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