The exhibit “Albert Watson: Visions feat. Cotton made in Africa” returns to its country of origin in two ways: a selection from the heart of the show – the portraits of the Cotton made in Africa smallholder farmers – is currently on display in public spaces in Cotonou as part of the Biennale Regard Benin. Additionally, the models were presented with their portraits, which had already been shown in the House of Photography, Deichtorhallen Hamburg.
Tina Stridde, Managing Director for the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), who accompanied Watson on his travels though Benin emphasises: “From the very beginning we knew it was important to bring the exhibit back to Benin. Without the people and our partners there, the project would never have been possible. We would like to express our thanks to all those involved.”
Cotton made in Africa at the Biennale Regard Benin 2012
Printed on comparatively grainy advertising media, eleven of the large-format Watson prints will initially be on display in Cotonou. Here the photographs from the country’s cotton region represent a world that is far-away and foreign to Benin’s urban dwellers.A plan to have an additional series travel through the north of Benin is also in development. The photographs are on open display from February 16 to April 16, 2013 in four-square-meter display cases owned by the Sonaec Company in Cotonou’s central square, Ganhi Market, and in the windows of the Hôtel du Port in Boulevard Marina. The exhibit was made possible by the Aid by Trade Foundation in cooperation with the House of Photography, Deichtorhallen Hamburg and organised by the South-North Cultural Forum as part of the Biennale Regard Benin 2012 programme.
Stephan Köhler, responsible for the exhibition in Benin, first saw the photographs at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg in September: “It immediately made perfect sense to me to bring Watson’s photographs back to Benin as soon as possible and display them in a public space, perhaps even as part of the Biennale Regard Benin.”
Models receive their portraits
The models photographed by Watson in December 2011 received prints of their portraits prior to the exhibit. As part of a celebration all participants were presented their photographs, including 21-year-old Boukari Kaoulatou, whose impressive portrait was one of the most distinctive at the exhibition at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg.
Famous fashion and advertising photographer Albert Watson travelled to Benin in 2011 on behalf of the Aid by Trade Foundation to photograph the living environments of the smallholder cotton farmers there who participate in the Cotton made in Africa initiative. The “Albert Watson: Visions feat. Cotton made in Africa” exhibit was held from 14 September 2012 to 13 January 2013 in the House of Photography at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg. The show attracted around 35,000 visitors.