Archive

16 August until 17 November 2013
CONQUERING EGYPT
THE PHOTOGRAPHY DEPARTMENT IN CONTEXT

At first glance, a large share of the photographs of 19th-century Egypt appears to cater to tourists. Yet besides the meandering River Nile flanked by palms trees, the images also feature the utterly straight bank of the Suez Canal, a waterway planned on the drawing board. Economic interests prompt the French to develop this connection between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. The exhibition sheds light on the appropriation of Egypt by the West: since at second glance, the photographs often reveal a hierarchical relationship between the European photographers and the country they are documenting. The images are an expression of the actual power relations of a colonized society that beginning in 1882 was under British rule. Architectural shots endeavour to capture the foreign country; pictures of cultural monuments testify to how they were conquered by tourists and the military. Ethnographically motivated photos mirror the attempts to “categorize the Arabs”.

Ill.: Anonymous, Members of the English Army in front of the Pyramids of Giza, 1882-90, Albumin, Collection of Photography and New Media, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg