The Missing Chapter Image Projection Campaign
Black Chronicles: The African Choir
11 September - 14 September 2014
Royal Festival Hall
Past event, free
Presented by Autograph ABP at Africa Utopia.
Encounter a newly discovered body of photographs of portraits of The African Choir, who toured Britain in 1891-93. Four exquisite portraits are shown alongside a digital slideshow projected onto the exterior of Royal Festival Hall.
The projection consists of thirty portraits of the sixteen members of the choir, who left Africa for Europe at the end of the 19th century on a mission to raise funds for education. Among many other places, they performed for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, the former royal residence in East Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Their portraits were taken in the studios of the London Stereoscopic Company, yet remained untouched for over a century. Based on research to date, the series represents the most comprehensive body of photographs depicting the black subject in Victorian Britain.
Seen here for the first time, these extraordinary photographs have been deeply buried at the Hulton Archive (a division of Getty Images) for over 120 years.
In 2014, Autograph ABP unearthed them as part of its ongoing archive research project, The Missing Chapter, to continue the critical mission of writing black photographic history - supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The full series of photographs can be seen as part of a new exhibition entitled Black Chronicles II, which explores black presences in 19th and early 20th century Britain through the prism of studio photography.
Curated by Renée Mussai and Mark Sealy.
Part of the exhibition
About Africa Utopia
Following 2012's sensational first edition, Africa Utopia is back for 2014 to once again look at what can be learnt and celebrated from Africa and the African diaspora.
About The Missing Chapter
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Missing Chapter aims to augment the photographic narratives of migration and cultural diversity in relation to Britain’s colonial history, and disseminate a visual heritage that is fragmented and often dislocated. Working in partnership with major cultural institution such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Hulton Archive and the National Army Museum (as well as other collaborators), Autograph ABP are researching examples of photographic evidence of black presences in Britain dating back to the earliest images produced since the invention of photography in 1839.
The Missing Chapter builds on the concept of ‘animating the past to imagine the future’, bringing the photographic archive out of the gallery/museum context and into direct engagement with communities. It offers a range of participatory activities and innovative public displays, aimed at overcoming recognised social barriers to access and offering new kinds of opportunities for diverse audiences to experience the content of Autograph ABP’s own, and other associated collections; our outreach initiatives provide opportunities for volunteers and young people to become actively involved in producing creative work, while others receive training in research skills, digital preservation and collection care.
A dedicated programme over three years includes a series of temporary large scale image projections staged in public spaces, pop up and gallery based exhibitions, the development of digital learning tools, online portfolios, an interactive app for mobile devices, and a forthcoming publication.
Read more >
In collaboration with
The Hulton Archive, a division of Getty Images
The Hulton Archive is a major visual resource and home to over 80 million images, of which a mere fraction are digitised. One of the oldest and largest archives in the world, the archive’s content is drawn from approximately 1500 individual collections and is a division of Getty Images, the leading provider of digital media within the imagery and video licensing industry. From the birth of photography to the present day, Hulton Archive offers a wealth of original, and in many cases unique, photographic material – alongside engravings, maps, cartoons, etchings, lithographs, illustrations and related visual ephemera dating back to the very beginnings of printed media. Situated in Westbourne Park, London, the Hulton Archive is a national treasure trove of imagery.
Curated by Renée Mussai and Mark Sealy
Research for Black Chronicles II and The Missing Chapter project is led by Renée Mussai at Autograph ABP.
Renée Mussai is Curator and Head of Archive at Autograph ABP. She is currently a PhD candidate at UCL; her research is concerned with black portraiture, photography and the archive.
Mark Sealy MBE is the Director of Autograph ABP. He is currently a PhD candidate at Durham University; his research focuses on photography and cultural violence.
Royal Festival Hall
London SE1 8XX
Image projection 7pm-11pm