With Renaissance, the Nederlands Fotomuseum presents photographer Angèle Etoundi Essamba’s (Cameroon, 1962) first solo museum exhibition in the Netherlands. The work of Essamba primarily reflects on the identities of African women and the wealth of African cultures. With contrast-rich and stylised photography, Essamba lets her images shine in a wealth of power and colour. Renaissance is the eighth edition of the Night in/Day out exhibition, which can be seen every day after sunset through the windows of the Nederlands Fotomuseum.
Renaissance is an exhibition that directly contributes to contemporary debates about the role of the Dutch post-colonial past, building on those currently taking place within the museum sector. The Nederlands Fotomuseum attaches great value to this theme and actively relates to it by showing Essamba's unique portraits in Renaissance. With this, it aims to contribute to the redefinition of old power patterns that originated in colonial times and still resonate in today's society.
The Renaissance photography project shows how symbols of power from the 17th century, such as the so-called millstone collars, are reinterpreted in stylised portraits of women of colour. Essamba breaks through the hierarchical relationships that applied in the 17th century and portrays the women as unique individuals who claim a place for themselves, no longer invisible at the margins and she turns the tables showing the black woman in all her pride, strength, independence and beauty.
The photography of Renaissance is framed by Essamba’s handwritten poems by Adonis, Maya Angelou, Pablo Neruda, Baudelaire, Senhor, Khalil Gibran, Rudyard Kipling and others. The projection of these poems creates a highly intimate relationship between the viewer and the project Renaissance: The texts are projected on and through the window, onto the spectator’s body. This creates the most intimate relationship with Renaissance: You become physically one with the work.
The Nederlands Fotomuseum presents visual stories that matter. The Renaissance that Essamba depicts with her penetrating portraits places history in a new and highly topical context and allows the viewer to reflect on their own image and history.
Angèle Etoundi Essamba
Angèle Etoundi Essamba was born in Cameroon in 1962 and moved to France when she was a young girl. Since 1982, Essamba has been living and working as a photographer in Amsterdam. She studied at the Fotovakschool in Amsterdam and has a bachelor's degree in art history. Since her first exhibition in 1985, her work has been exhibited frequently in museums, exhibitions, art fairs, and galleries in Europe, Africa, the United States, Latin America, and Asia. Her photographs can be found in many private and public collections. Through the women she photographs, Essamba observes the world and reflects on the identity of women of colour. She has a great desire to know and understand her subjects.
Night in/Day out
Night in/Day out is a project by the Nederlands Fotomuseum in which artworks are projected on the windows of the museum from sunset to sunrise. The artworks can be admired from outside. Renaissance by Angèle Etoundi Essamba is the eighth edition of this project.
The exhibition is accompanied by the photobook Renaissance, designed by Inés v. Grimaux and published by Essamba-Art. With a contribution from Florence Morel, Rob Perrée, Ousseynou Wade en Mirjam Westen. The book is available at the museum and our webshop.
Renaissance (English) ISBN 978 90 8216 675 0
Price € 49,50