A WORLD IN COMMON:
CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN PHOTOGRAPHY
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
JULY 6, 2023 - JANUARY 14, 2024
In July 2023, the Tate Modern will present a group exhibition entitled A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography curated by Osei Bonsu which includes six photographs by gallery artist Lazhar Mansouri. The exhibition explores contemporary artists who use photography and time-based media to reimagine Africa’s cultural and historical narratives.
Examining the dialogue between past and present, the exhibition will address the innovative ways contemporary African photography challenges perceptions of history, culture, and identity. Focusing on transhistorical themes, the exhibition draws together diverse perspectives on cultural heritage, spirituality, urbanism, and climate emergency to reveal new artistic imaginaries.
Lazhar Mansouri (1932-1985) was an Algerian photographer active from the mid-1950s through the mid-1980s in Aïn Beïda (Aurès Mountains region, Northern Algeria). During this period, he owned and operated a photography studio and created an archive of local everyday people, which included rarely photographed indigenous tribes.
Mansouri first encountered photography as a child while accompanying his grandmother to a local bazaar, where he met a photographer operating a studio in the back of a barber shop. The experienced local photographer later hired Mansouri as an apprentice, allowing Mansouri an introduction to the craft. After his training he opened his own small studio in an obscure building behind the local Tunisian grocery store. Mansouri’s photo studio served thousands of Algerians with their photographic needs from id card photos to documenting family occasions. From the images, Mansouri created an inadvertent historic narrative of the people of Northern Algeria through his photographs of weddings, births, children, graduations, portraits, friends, and family.
The Mansouri studio was founded at the beginning of the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962). After France officially declared Algeria’s independence on July 5, 1962, Mansouri continued to fulfill the photographic needs of the growing community in Aïn Beïda. During the early 1980s and after Mansouri's death, his family considered the necessity of burning what could be deemed as controversial images. Luckily, part of the patrimony was saved by another photographer from the region who saw its historic importance. It is estimated that the archive at one time included tens of thousands of negatives.