Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the Deichtorhallen Hamburg are sending star photographer Albert Watson to Benin. Over the next two weeks, Watson will photograph the cotton farmers who work with the initiative. The resulting pictures will be displayed next year in the House of Photography as part of an exhibition of Albert Watson’s work entitled “Albert Watson — Memories and Visions feat. Faces of Africa”.
Cotton made in Africa promotes the cultivation of sustainably produced cotton in Africa to improve the living conditions of the 240,000 smallholder farmers currently active in the initiative. This exceptional collaboration with fashion and commercial photographer Albert Watson will provide insight into the cotton farmers’ world and transport a better awareness of Africa and CmiA’s work. “It is all about rendering the people behind this initiative visible: Who is Cotton made in Africa really? Who are the people behind it and what do their lives look like?” explains Tina Stridde, Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation, the CmiA’s sponsoring organisation. The photos will illustrate the initiative’s goal to improve social conditions in the smallholder farmers’ lives. In addition to the cotton harvest, currently underway, Watson will also visit traditional markets and a tribal king in Benin to get an impression of the diversity of life in Benin and its people.
The completed photographs are scheduled for exhibition from 14 September 2012 to 6 January 2013 in the House of Photography at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg. The “Albert Watson — Memories and Visions feat. Faces of Africa” exhibition will be part of a show that includes the photographer’s vintage and Polaroid works never shown before. Curator Ingo Taubhorn notes: “Albert Watson is well-known as a fashion and celebrity photographer, but he is so much more: He toils uncompromisingly on the image and can just as easily turn his scrutinizing gaze on social realities. Which is why I am looking forward to seeing what stories the smallholder farmers will tell in his pictures.”
Albert Watson is a living legend in fashion and commercial photography. His prominent motifs include stars like Mick Jagger, Alfred Hitchcock, Kate Moss, Johnny Depp and Jack Nicholson, to name just a few. In addition to famous people, Watson also enjoys photographing the people he meets during his travels. In 1998 he published “Morocco”, an illustrated book that has often been described as a visual hymn in honour of that African country.
About the exhibition
The “Albert Watson — Memories and Visions feat. Faces of Africa” exhibition will be held from 14 September 2012 to 6 January 2013 in the House of Photography in the Deichtorhallen Hamburg. The exhibit consists of two parts: Albert Watson’s newly created photographs of Benin from December 2011 comprise its heart. They depict smallholder farmers who work with the Cotton made in Africa initiative and visualize the social effects of the initiative. The accompanying exhibition will show never before published vintage and Polaroid works from the famed fashion and commercial photographer.