Review

ALBERT WATSON
VISIONS FEAT.
COTTON MADE IN AFRICA

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House of Photography 14 September 2012 — 6 January 2013

Albert Watson is definitely one of the world’s most successful fashion and ad photographers of recent decades. Born in Scotland, he is now based in New York and his oeuvre stands out for its diversity and the wealth of different sides to it. Watson is associated with unusual and powerful portraits, among others of Naomi Campbell, Mick Jagger and Alfred Hitchcock, images that catch the eye for their refined compositions and use of light. Of late, Watson’s pictures have often be presented in a constellation of cross-genre, large-format pieces destined to emphasize his philosophy of diversity.

The exhibition on VISIONS FEAT. COTTON MADE IN AFRICA that will be held at Haus der Photographie in Hamburg’s Deichtorhallen from September 14, 2012 to January 6, 2013 in cooperation with the Aid by Trade foundation, takes a new curatorial approach to presenting Albert Watson’s oeuvre. The exhibition has two sections: the Albert Watson photographs made exclusively in Benin in December 2011 form the heart of the show. They present the smallholders associated with the Cotton made in Africa initiative and introduce us to their world, thus visualizing the initiative’s social impact. Cotton made in Africa is organized by the Aid by Trade foundation and helps self-help through trade.

The exhibition nevertheless emphatically hinges on Watson’s impressive images of Africa. These respectful photographic works tell the tales of the smallholders, of the people who form the backbone of the Cotton made in Africa initiative and its work. Watson’s snapshots constitute fragments of reality from the life of the African cotton farmers, offering silent observations that take the viewer along on the trip round Benin.

Alongside the current photographic fruit of his trip round Benin, various rooms are dedicated to early work groups and classics, mainly small-format vintage prints that Watson himself made in the darkroom. Here, special emphasis is laid on the degree to which his photographs are always the result of a process, something borne out by the Polaroids, contact sheets and projects sketches that are all on public show for the first time. This encourages viewers to actively explore Watson’s artistic strategy and the sheer breadth of the different genres, without losing sight of the roots of the various work groups. In the extraordinary architecture of Haus der Photographie, fashion and lifestyle images are presented in a new way alongside incisive, powerfully energetic landscape and portrait shots as well as still lifes from Morocco, Las Vegas and the world of the Benin cotton farmers.

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Video Teaser Cotton Made in Africa

Video Interview with Albert Watson

Gallery

Magazine

Zur Ausstellung erscheint ein Magazin »Albert Watson – Fourteen Days in Benin« herausgegeben von Ingo Taubhorn und Tina Stridde mit 48 Seiten auf Deutsch/Englisch/Französisch/Portugiesisch. 42 Abbildungen, Zeitungsdruck, 35 x 51 cm