August 2, 2012 - September 2, 2012
Image © Guy Tillim
Avenue Patrice Lumumba
In many African cities, there are streets, avenues, and squares named after Patrice Lumumba, one of the first elected African leaders of modern times, who won the Congo election after independence from Belgium in 1960. His speech at the independence celebrations in Léopoldville, in the presence of the Belgian King Baudouin unequivocally signaled his opposition to the West’s idea of neo-colonial order that would replace overt domination with indirect control. He was assassinated in January 1961 by Belgian agents after UN complicity in the secession of the provinces of Katanga and South Kasai, and a Western power-supported military coup led by Mobutu Sese Seko. Today his image as a nationalist visionary necessarily remains unmolested by the accusations of abuse of power that became synonymous with later African heads of state.
“Avenue Patrice Lumumba” by Guy Tillim is an examination of modern history in Africa against the backdrop of its colonial and post-colonial architectural heritage. It travels through numerous African countries, including Mozambique, Angola and The Democratic Republic of Congo.
In this project, the South African photographer Guy Tillim departs from the late-modernist architectural structures that shaped the colonial landscape of conflicts in recent decades. However, the transitional and hybrid scenery and spaces he depicts do not merely testify to conflict and an oppressive past, decay and violently contested ideologies. They speak equally of the aspirations for liberation and progress in the post-colonial era.
Guy Tillim was born in Johannesburg in 1962. He started photographing professionally in 1986 and joined Afrapix, a collective of South African photographers with whom he worked closely until 1990. His work as a freelance photographer in South Africa for the local and foreign media included positions with Reuters between 1986 and 1988, and Agence France Presse in 1993 and 1994. Tillim has received many awards for his work including the Prix SCAM (Société Civile des Auteurs Multimedia) Roger Pic in 2002, the Higashikawa Overseas Photographer Award (Japan) in 2003, the 2004 DaimlerChrysler Award for South African photography, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 2005 and the first Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography from the Peabody Museum at Harvard University in 2006. He has exhibited extensively around the globe.
This exhibition has been organized by the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago. Major funding for this exhibition has been provided by the Lannan Foundation.