CAN I MAKE A PHOTO WITH YOU? (1)
Installation, Multimedia: Photography, Photosculpture and Video. @2017-2019
CAN I MAKE A PHOTO WITH YOU? (1)
The photographic series „Can I make a photo with you? (1)“ consists of pictures taken during
my travels to Burkina Faso, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My archive contains more than 500 photographs, which were shot in different contexts, when local African men asked me or other female traveling companions for a joint photo. The poses taken reflect a wide range of topics that are implicated by the situation and context, but at the same time they are only brief, long-lost moments captured in snapshots.
The pictures tell a lot and different things, while many questions arise from them and also
from the way they are created: What does the picture document? Which form of relationship, what kind of encounter is revealed in it? Is the visit a reason for the picture because it should be remembered? Is it about fun, emotional connections or something else? Have I and we been asked for common photos so often because we promise a better life and come from richer societies? Who evaluates who, what exchange takes place? How are we considered as guests by our hosts and how do we look at them? And what is shown by the attitudes and gestures, the interactions and the irritations?
These questions are of course not answered by the pictures themselves, but only raised. They open up a whole field of image references around the encounter of white women and dark-skinned men. These references range, here only roughly mentioned, from propagandistic representations of the need to protect the white woman from sexual assault by black men portrayed as savages to the portrayals of white sex tourists in African countries, such as Ulrich Seidl documented cinematically, from the interracial porn and the associated sexist and racist clichés – and their supposed attractiveness – to the reports,
fears and discussions surrounding the attacks of the New Year‘s Eve 2016/17 in Cologne.
It is important to me that these issues are reflected associatively in the pictures, but the pictures have a much greater openness. Although clichés and patterns can also be found in them, which structure the encounter between the sexes and also between pale pink and light to dark brown people (to allude to Alain Badious‘s explanations that in reality the body does not exist white and black as skin colors also not yellow or red, see the last chapter of his book Black), at the same time the pictures are documents of fleeting encounters between individuals from different contexts, remain undefined and therefore bear witness to a liveliness that undermines the clichés and goes beyond. Based on this lack of definition the
pictures also ask questions about the different perspectives of European and African people on each other and on the circumstances, in which they live and meet, and therefore, in the shown concrete interaction, they may contribute to dismantle misunderstandings, fears and reservations.
It is also about opening up the possibility of critically examining one‘s own privileged position as a Western person, of recognizing and making the invoked phantasies and ideas visible, the mutual projections, the phantasms on both sides to let go – without ignoring them, because they are always associated, but point beyond them.