By Ken Olende
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Ever Young/WEB Du Bois Paris Albums – depicting black people’s lives

This article is over 13 years, 8 months old
Two new photo exhibitions present changing views of black people through the past century.
Issue 2222
Picture for Drum of Trafalgar Square, London, 1966 (Pic: James Barnor www.autograph-abp.co.ukwww.autograph-abp.co.uk )
Picture for Drum of Trafalgar Square, London, 1966 (Pic: James Barnor www.autograph-abp.co.uk)

Two new photo exhibitions present changing views of black people through the past century.

Ghanaian photographer James Barnor set up the Ever Young studio in the capital Accra in the early 1950s. By the mid 1960s he was in London, shooting for “the first black lifestyle magazine in Africa”, Drum.

The 80 pictures in the exhibition show shifting societies. The Ghana pictures vary from a middle aged man shot both in traditional dress and his freemason’s costume to two young women who are proud in their nurses’ uniform.

Along the way major figures appear almost in passing—Barnor appears on a settee with Ghana’s president Kwame Nkrumah.

WEB Du Bois was the leading US black radical at the beginning of the 20th century. He assembled 363 photographic portraits of black Americans for the great Paris Exhibition of 1900.

His aim was to undermine the stereotypes of African Americans, “without apology or gloss”. He was successful—the portraits remain striking.

The exhibitions are put on by Autograph, which is an archive of ‘culturally diverse’ photography’

Ever Young: Photographs by James Barnor/WEB Du Bois Paris Albums
Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA Free until 27 November
www.autograph-abp.co.uk

One of the pictures from WEB Du Bois
One of the pictures from WEB Du Bois’s Paris album (Pic: Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

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