Home  Museum Fünf Kontinente Daughters of Life

New exhibition

Töchter des Lebens. Daughters of Life
Photographs by Angèle Etoundi Essamba
March 23 until July 1, 2018
Museum Fünf Kontinente

Born in Douala, Cameroun, Essamba moved to Paris at the age of ten and went to school there, before moving on to the Netherlands to study at the Photo Academy of Amsterdam. This city is still the centre of Essamba’s activity today. Her works are a return to Africa, or more precisely to the women of Africa. She is a photographer, film maker and poet who uses both staged and everyday situations to create images of women who radiate their own special identity and transport a vision of contemporary Africa with the aid of an awesome aesthetic.
Essamba links her photographic works to worldviews and philosophies, sensitizing the onlooker to fundamental human issues. She deliberately focuses on three main themes: pride, strength and self‐confidence. She often portrays women wearing masks, veils or long garments. Yet these things do not hide the wearers, but render them more visible. They create a special note on a body or face, and make the character radiated by the person perceptible to the observer. Sometimes, an unpleasant everyday background makes the women appear all the more determined and intense. Although Essamba uses digital photography and edits her pictures only in exceptional cases, they often create the appearance of being painted, and have a splendour that is normally only associated with paintings. With accessories such as calabashes, colourful fabrics or traditional African masks, her arrangements often look like natural still lifes – but they are living, not inanimate. For masks serve as interfaces between individual and community, inside and outside. Masks are a symbol of what is to be hidden from the world and what is to be revealed. And calabashes are the most important gift presented to man by the creator deity in many African myths. People can eat and drink out of them, use them for cleansing purposes, as a container for transport, as a storage vessel – or even as a musical instrument. With this repertoire of stylistic devices, Essamba shows the social reality of working women from Cameroun to Zanzibar, from Senegal to Benin.
More than 200 exhibitions since 1985 are evidence of the high level of Angèle Etoundi Essamba’s creativity and international recognition. A special feature of the Munich show is that it creates a dialogue between Essamba’s works and objects from the Africa collection of the Museum Fünf Kontinente.


Fig.: Healing 5124, 2016 ©Angèle Etoundi Essamba.


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