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Indepth Arts News:

"A Day in the Life of Africa"
2002-10-22 until 2002-11-04
Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal
New York, NY, USA United States of America

The North American tour of a major new photography exhibition entitled A Day in the Life of Africa debuts in Vanderbilt Hall at New York’s Grand Central Terminal. A Day in the Life of Africa unveils an array of vivid photographs portraying contemporary life on the African continent from the coast of Tunisia to the Cape of Good Hope. Each of the 150 photographs was taken earlier this year during a single 24-hour period by one hundred top photojournalists participating in a global photo-documentary project.

These words, written nearly half a century after the launch of The Museum of Modern Art’s path-breaking photography survey, The Family of Man (1955), reflect the continuation of a broadly shared belief in photography as an unrivaled medium for expressing both the commonalities and the seemingly infinite variety of the human condition.

Among the faces of Africa portrayed in A Day in the Life of Africa are those of a villager harvesting rice on a high plain near the town of Soatanana, Madagascar, where men and women dress only in white, photographed by fellow countryman Pierrot Men; a teenager casually tossing a basketball into a hoop, seemingly indifferent to the bullet holes that riddle the backboard, observed by veteran South African photographer Guy Tillim in a newly revitalized Angola; a pair of placid young women portrayed in a bakery in Eritrea by the Paris-based war photo-correspondent Peter Turnley; and a child in a camp run by the International Rescue Committee who waits to be reunited with his family, his patience recorded by Andre Lambertson, a well-known African-American photographer most recently acclaimed for a photo-documentary series on juvenile violence in the United States.

Other memorable images include an ore train snaking through the remotest part of the Saharan desert (Pascal Maitre, France); the hypnotic sway of a woman in a late-night disco barge on the Nile (Nina Berman, U.S.); the solemn salute of two school boys (Per-Anders Pettersson, Sweden); and a family breakfast in suburban Johannesburg (Louise Gubb, South Africa).

The Photographers

A Day in the Life of Africa includes the work of many of the world’s most renowned photojournalists – a dozen of the participating photographers have been awarded Pulitzer or World Press Photo Prizes. Each team member had photographed previously in Africa, and approximately 20 of the one hundred photographers are African or African-American in background. Eliane Laffont, worldwide editorial director of Hachette-Filipacchi Media Group, assembled the group. For the first time in the history of the A Day in the Life ® series, photographers were invited to suggest their own assignments.

The Exhibition

A Day in the Life of Africa has been organized by Exhibitions International, a New York-based non-profit organization devoted to developing and circulating art exhibitions to museums and other public venues around the world.

Constantin Boym of Boym Partners, Inc., an internationally recognized designer based in New York, has designed the 12,000-square-foot exhibition.

Designed to evoke a traditional African village, the installation mirrors the exhibition’s thematic organization. Photographs will be grouped in categories suggested by the content of the images themselves: Work; Leisure; Marketplace; Family & Friends; City & Countryside; Rituals & Festivals; and Caregiving.

All but a few of the photographs in the exhibition are color and most were captured in digital format. The use of digital technology was a first for this latest A Day in the Life ® project, as well as a first for a number of photographers involved in the project. >

The exhibition is part of a larger project that includes a photography book, a volume that extends a phenomenally popular series launched two decades ago. A Day in the Life of Africa is scheduled for international release in October 2002. All profits from the book will go to A Day in the Life of Africa AIDS Education Fund, administered by the Tides Foundation, San Francisco, in conjunction with the Harvard AIDS Institute, Johns Hopkins University Center for Communications Programs and the Soul City Foundation, South Africa.

Following its two-week showing at Grand Central Terminal, the exhibition A Day in the Life of Africa will travel to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Chicago and at least two additional American cities. Admission will be free at every venue.

Pfizer Inc is the sole sponsor of the exhibition and its North American tour as well as a lead sponsor of the publication.

On February 28, 2002, one hundred photographers fanned out across the continent of Africa to create a photographic mosaic as complex, rich, and rounded as the reality of African life itself. Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu describes the results in the book’s Foreword:

These photographs speak eloquently about the wide range of human conditions that exist within this vast continent. You will see people going about their daily lives, men and women at work, parents caring for their families, children in school and at play. You will see landscapes, cities, villages, and home, customs, culture and religious practices that are uniquely African. These portraits of the daily lives of African people and places can invoke deeper public understanding of our continent.

These words, written nearly half a century after the launch of The Museum of Modern Art’s path-breaking photography survey, The Family of Man (1955), reflect the continuation of a broadly shared belief in photography as an unrivaled medium for expressing both the commonalities and the seemingly infinite variety of the human condition.

Among the faces of Africa portrayed in A Day in the Life of Africa are those of a villager harvesting rice on a high plain near the town of Soatanana, Madagascar, where men and women dress only in white, photographed by fellow countryman Pierrot Men; a teenager casually tossing a basketball into a hoop, seemingly indifferent to the bullet holes that riddle the backboard, observed by veteran South African photographer Guy Tillim in a newly revitalized Angola; a pair of placid young women portrayed in a bakery in Eritrea by the Paris-based war photo-correspondent Peter Turnley; and a child in a camp run by the International Rescue Committee who waits to be reunited with his family, his patience recorded by Andre Lambertson, a well-known African-American photographer most recently acclaimed for a photo-documentary series on juvenile violence in the United States.

Other memorable images include an ore train snaking through the remotest part of the Saharan desert (Pascal Maitre, France); the hypnotic sway of a woman in a late-night disco barge on the Nile (Nina Berman, U.S.); the solemn salute of two school boys (Per-Anders Pettersson, Sweden); and a family breakfast in suburban Johannesburg (Louise Gubb, South Africa).

The Photographers

A Day in the Life of Africa includes the work of many of the world’s most renowned photojournalists – a dozen of the participating photographers have been awarded Pulitzer or World Press Photo Prizes. Each team member had photographed previously in Africa, and approximately 20 of the one hundred photographers are African or African-American in background. Eliane Laffont, worldwide editorial director of Hachette-Filipacchi Media Group, assembled the group. For the first time in the history of the A Day in the Life ® series, photographers were invited to suggest their own assignments.

The Exhibition

A Day in the Life of Africa has been organized by Exhibitions International, a New York-based non-profit organization devoted to developing and circulating art exhibitions to museums and other public venues around the world.

Constantin Boym of Boym Partners, Inc., an internationally recognized designer based in New York, has designed the 12,000-square-foot exhibition.

Designed to evoke a traditional African village, the installation mirrors the exhibition’s thematic organization. Photographs will be grouped in categories suggested by the content of the images themselves: Work; Leisure; Marketplace; Family & Friends; City & Countryside; Rituals & Festivals; and Caregiving.

All but a few of the photographs in the exhibition are color and most were captured in digital format. The use of digital technology was a first for this latest A Day in the Life ® project, as well as a first for a number of photographers involved in the project.


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