Together with the legendary photographer Albert Watson, the initiative Cotton made in Africa presented a preview of the exhibition Albert Watson: Visions feat. Cotton made in Africa. The viewers accompanied the artist on his journey through the West African country and enjoyed insights into the Benin way of life. The preview event took place at the EAST Hotel in Hamburg last week.
The presentation given by Albert Watson and Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation, took the visitors on a trip through Benin. Making-of photos depicted some of the team’s experiences and the individual stops along the two-week trip, ranging from their arrival in Cotonou, a visit to a local king and a festival with the Peuhl people, to interactions with the cotton farmers who work with Cotton made in Africa. Watson’s impressive photographs show day-to-day life in Africa from the legendary fashion and celebrity photographer’s perspective.
Cotton made in Africa is an Initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation that helps people help themselves through trade. The initiative aims at sustainably improving living conditions for African small holder farmers by creating an alliance of international textile firms who purchase and process sustainably produced cotton from African smallholder farmers for the world market. Cotton farmers also profit the initiative’s training and social projects. Currently around 420,000 smallholder farmers from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia participate in the programme. Last year around 15 million textiles made of Cotton made in Africa cotton entered the market, and the initiative anticipates around 20 million units this year.
Albert Watson was especially moved by the people he met on his travels: “The people were wonderful. I was particularly touched by their energy and positivity – it was truly astonishing since the country and its people are really very poor. Experiencing and photographing their pure joy in life was a wonderful experience for me.”
The photographs taken in Benin tell the stories of the Cotton made in Africa farmers who are the heart of the initiative, as curator Ingo Taubhorn emphasised: “With this exhibition, we want to communicate an impression of the initiative’s work. I would like visitors to approach the CmiA with a different awareness and recognize the initiative outside the exhibition as well.”
Albert Watson travelled through Benin for two weeks in December 2011 to portray the smallholder farmers who work with CmiA. The exhibition Albert Watson: Visions feat. Cotton made in Africa will open on September 14, 2012 in the House of Photography in the Deichtorhallen Hamburg. In addition to photos from Benin, some of Watson’s unpublished work will also be on display.
The Albert Watson: Visions feat. Cotton made in Africa exhibition will be held from 14 September 2012 to 6 January 2013 in the House of Photography at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg. The exhibit consists of two parts: Albert Watson’s newly created photographs of Benin from December 2011 comprise its heart. They depict smallholder farmers who work with the Cotton made in Africa initiative and their living environments in order to visualize the social effects of the initiative. The accompanying exhibition will show never before published vintage and Polaroid works from the famed fashion and commercial photographer. Besides two of the Cotton made in Africa retail partners, OTTO and Tom Tailor, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is another important sponsor of the project.