It’s now possible to take a digital stroll through the exhibition
“Africa – In the view of the photographers”, a Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site exhibition under the patronage of the Federal Development Minister, Gerd Müller, was supposed to be open to visitors by now. But due to the coronavirus, this is not possible at the moment, and visitors will have to wait a while before they can physically enter the Burden Hall to see the large photos by nine exceptional African photographers. Nevertheless, the exhibition has been installed. Forty-three works by photographers such as Osborne Macharia, Ilan Godfrey and Fabrice Monteiro are now hanging on the rough walls of the burden hall and over the silo funnels, waiting for visitors.
The Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site has decided to harness the potential of today’s digital technology in order to enable visitors to virtually preview the exhibition. Markus Lutz has created a 3D tour that, in a similar way to Google Street View, allows visitors to navigate through the exhibition. While taking their virtual stroll through “Africa – In the view of the photographers”, internet users will be provided with information about the artists and their work in German, English and French. The photographers have sent personal video messages to accompany the virtual exhibition. Even in digital form, it is clear that Völklinger Hütte is more than just an industrial backdrop. Virtual visitors can see how the burden hall of the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site and the works by African artists enter into a dialogue with each other to produce an artistic synthesis.
Visitors can also watch a trailer and a film by the filmmaker Philipp Majer, who has created a profile of the exhibition and its very special ambience. The Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site’s managing director, Michael Schley, and the exhibition’s curator, Frank Krämer, welcome visitors and discuss the artistic approach and the exhibition’s perspective on Africa. All digital features accompanying “Africa – In the view of the photographers” can be found at www.voelklinger-huette-afrika.org, where visitors can also find further information about the artists and their works. In addition, the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site posts daily updates on the exhibition on Facebook and Instagram.
“Digital opportunities are particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic. Needless to say, a virtual exhibition cannot replace a real visit. But given that a real visit isn’t possible right now, a virtual stroll through the exhibition provides a first impression and a chance to explore the works of African photographers digitally. We hope that this digital stroll will encourage visitors to see the exhibition “in the flesh” as soon as this is possible. This virtual exhibition sees us expand our existing major digital projects on industrial cultures, such as our YouTube channel, Industrial-Culture-TV, and our virtual tour on Google Arts & Culture. Going forward, we will continue to develop the digital offerings of the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site,” says Michael Schley, managing director of the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site.
“I am especially delighted that many of the featured artists have sent video messages to accompany the exhibition. At the moment, when a physical visit is impossible, digital technology provides us with other ways to come together. After all, one of the exhibition’s main aims is to share artistic insights into Africa from the perspective of African artists,” says Frank Krämer, director of exhibitions at the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site and curator of “Africa – In the view of the photographers”.
The exhibition “Africa – In the view of the photographers” at the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site goes beyond the usual stereotypes to offer insights into Africa. In their photographs, African artists share their internal, artistic perspectives on their home countries, exploring daily life in the cities as well as industry, traces of the past and pop culture. In offering a forum for African photographers’ artistic viewpoints, the exhibition at the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site provides visitors with multifaceted and perhaps surprising insights into African culture. Some of the photographers have already exhibited at major exhibitions, while others are presenting their work in Germany for the first time. The Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site is exhibiting a total of 43 large photographs by nine photographers.
Among them is Osborne Macharia, who is famous for the series of photographs he created for the Oscar-winning film Black Panther. Ilan Godfrey examines the legacy of mining in South Africa, while Fabrice Monteiro travels to polluted places in Africa to create a photo series featuring mythical-like figures. Léonard Pongo searches for the Freudian “uncanny” in Congo, and Fethi Sahraoui depicts moments of freedom experienced by children in Algerian football stadiums. Alice Mann captures formation dancing subculture among underprivileged women in South Africa. Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar celebrates the positive energy of breakdance culture in Uganda, Omar Victor Diop creates portraits of people from the urban African cultural scene, and the Moroccan artist Yoriyas depicts the sides of his home town, Casablanca, that transcend the clichés of the famous Hollywood film, travel guides and orientalist fantasies.
The exhibition “Africa – In the view of the photographers” offers insights into African culture from the perspective of African artists. The title of Yoriyas’s photo series could therefore also serve as the motto for the entire exhibition at the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site: “Casablanca Not the Movie”.
As soon as the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site reopens, visitors will be able to enjoy a new exhibition and fresh inspiration.
PS: The catalogue accompanying the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site’s “Africa – In the view of the photographers” exhibition offers a traditional, analogue way of experiencing the works. The 104-page catalogue contains the exhibition’s photographs and information on the artists as well as two essays on African photography by the experts John Fleetwood and Sean O’Toole. The catalogue can be ordered via the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site’s online shop at wwwvoelklinger-huette.org or by phone at 0049 / 6898 - 9100 100. It costs €19.90.
A 3D virtual exhibition in virtual-reality mode
The virtual exhibition “Africa – In the view of the photographers” at the Völklinger Hütte World Heritage Site offers three-dimensional impressions of the exhibition space in the Burden Hall. Virtual visitors can begin their tour by clicking the “Play” triangle on the left of the window. Clicking on the mouse allows them to make their own way through the exhibition, move through the three-dimensional space as they like and pick up additional information at digital info points. The tour can be resumed simply by clicking “Play” again.
Internet users with a virtual-reality headset and the necessary app can turn their smartphones into virtual-reality glasses by clicking on the “View in VR” icon on the right of the window. This will bring them to operating instructions and information on which free app needs to be downloaded. Finally, the smartphone must be placed inside a VR headset. These “glasses” create a sense of being inside the Burden Hall and walking through the exhibition. Visitors navigate within the virtual reality by directing their gaze at the digital points in the three-dimensional space. Each point takes you into another space.