Cyanotype workshop, Zoetrope Athens (September 24, 2020). Photo by Yorgos Yatromanolakis.

Archives, Process: Images of the African and Black Diaspora

September 24 - 25, 2021

@ Zoetrope Athens and Pedion Areos Park
︎︎︎Organized by Anietie Ekanem and Ariana Kalliga

On September 24, 2020, artist Anietie Ekanem introduced participants to his approach of producing cyanotypes using Southeastern Nigerian archival photographs. Participants learned how to produce cyanotypes by exposing photo-negatives onto light-sensitive paper, using a variety of mediums and images. Discussions centered around how we can re-interpret the histories recorded in photographs that are passed down through generations as well as found images of everyday life. The workshop explored what we can come to remember through photography and how contemporary art practice can probe processes of history-making. 

The following day, the program’s participants met up at Pedion Areos Park for two reading groups led by Anietie Ekanem and Ariana Kalliga. A selection of texts were read aloud and discussed, including Bell Hooks’s essay: “In Our Glory: Photography and Black Life,” and two chapters from Tina M. Campt’s, Listening to Images (2017)We explored questions of identity, memory, and diaspora, among other themes that emerged from our collective discussions. Towards the end of the reading group, participants were asked to describe a family photograph or object of their choice, and to consider how it comes to produce and communicate meaning.

Special thanks to Zoetrope Athens and Menelaos Karamaghiolis for helping us with local outreach, coordination and documentation of the two-day program.

About Anietie Ekanem (b. 1996, London)

In Anietie Ekanem’s practice, time, memory and decolonisation come together in play through photography and photographic reproduction to construct new identities. His contemporary practice, which spans such diverse mediums as cyanotypes and video, forms an inquiry into how the idea of self can be explored through a diasporic identity. By using Southeastern Nigerian archival photographs passed down through his family, Anietie re-frames non-Western narratives in a Western setting, in effect showing the intrinsic duality of diasporic identity. In his own words, photography can become a revolutionary tool:

“My grandmother is both photographer, target, and viewer. As am I, through the reproduction of this image through cyanotype. A discourse is initiated whereby the Eurocentrism of photography is dissolved through the indelible Black agency. Indeed, photographs on the walls of black homes, which chronicle Black life and illustrate
cultural praxes, combats the dehumanisation of Black bodies and simultaneously document history in reaction to systemic erasures of black history.”

Learn more: 

1st Reading Group in Pedion Areos Park (September 25, 2020). Photo by Menelaos Karamaghiolis.