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Voyage Retour: Exhibition of Historic Photographs

A guest studying magazine clippings on display at the Voyage Retour.
Pa Ojeikhere signing his autograph for guests at the exhibition

Germany’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Dorothee Janetzke-Wenzel, welcoming the audience to Voyage Retour in Lagos.

The large collection of photographic works is rich,
full of history and ties between peoples.

Some show people doing things; engaged in some form of
work, others captured people enjoying their fun times.

For young people who desire to see what the bubbling
city of Lagos looked like as far back as the 1920s, this exhibition is a

The Voyage Retour,
an exhibition of historic photographs by the Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany,
opened in Lagos on Nov. 17 and will run till Dec. 1.

It is the first time the museum is exhibiting part of
its photography archive in Africa. It is holding at an easily-accessible
location of the Federal Government Press built in 1896 under the British
colonial rule on Broad Street, Lagos Island.

The exhibition features choice photographs from
Folkwang’s collection by Rolf Gillhausen, Germaine Krull, Robert Lebeck, Malick
Sidibe, Wolfgang Weber and renowned Nigerian photographer J.D Okhai Ojeikhere,
including archive material of the Federal Ministry of Information, Nigeria.

The exhibition which is sponsored by the German
Federal Foreign Office, explores cultural relations between Africa and Europe
from the 1920s to 1970s.

  Ojeikhere’s collection showcasing young ladies
at the University College, Ibadan is encompassing, showing details of beautiful
hairstyles, dress styles and games they played.

Some of the photographs captured what the houses,
roads and means of transportation looked like then. Sure, those have gone with times
and will only be appreciated through this documentation.

The Director, Goethe
Institut, Lagos,
Schmachtel, noted that the
essence of the exhibition even at this time, was to understand our history as a
people. He said “If you don’t know your history, you don’t know where you are
coming from.”

He notes that history is very subjective, but that the
medium of photographs used to document history can help people appreciate the
history of a place in the last 50 years.

“ You can  later
find  a momentum of history of a place
from photographs that have been taken 50 years ago.

“Cities are evolving and gradually changing the looks
of places, but it is important for them to be documented.”
Director of Goethe-Institut Lagos, Marc-Andre Schmachtel, delivering the welcome address.

Curator of  the exhibition,Kerstin Meincke, during her speech at the opening ceremony.

Curator of the exhibition, Kerstin Meincke, said her
impression of the important role played by photography when she first visited
Nigeria in 2011 encouraged her to put the exhibition up.

She said: “Nigeria was a perfect place to host an
exhibition on archive photography dealing with questions of the role photographs
played in the process of producing and establishing cultural knowledge and
ideas of cultural identity within the contexts of the European colonial
experience and decolonisation in Africa, south of the Sahara.”

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