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3PA: West African Image Lab

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3PA: West African Image Lab
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A preservation seminar organized by Resolution Photo, in Porto-Novo, Benin, to ensure the future of photography collections in Africa


Resolution is a non-profit organization dedicated to photography and photography collections in Africa. We work to preserve vibrant and vitally important photography collections for future generations, and we create innovative programming with the aim of dramatically expanding public and community access to African photographic heritage in the present.

Why focus on preservation in Africa?
All across Africa, irreplaceable photographic collections are rapidly disappearing. We are losing these collections not only through lack of preservation resources, but also through theft and resale of valuable prints and negatives in other parts of the world. According to researchers at the École du Patrimoine Africain (an NGO dedicated to cultural heritage preservation in Africa), one country, Benin, will lose all of its significant collections of vintage prints and negatives within 3-5 years if immediate measures are not taken to preserve them. This problem is widespread in Africa, where archivists and conservators lack the material resources, technical solutions, and professional networks to ensure access to this visual patrimony for future generations.

What is the Préservation du Patrimoine Photographique Africain (3PA): West African Image Lab?

The 3PA: West African Image Lab is a four-day seminar organized by Resolution and an international team of photograph conservation professionals to provide technical training in photograph preservation in Africa. It will bring together museum and archive professionals, curators, and others looking after significant photography collections in multiple countries and regions of Africa, as well as a younger generation of photographers and artists who work with historic and archival photographs for four days (April 22-25, 2014), in Porto-Novo, Benin. The seminar will introduce and advance the practice of photo preservation in Benin and in eight additional countries (Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Uganda, and South Africa) and, subsequently, across sub-Saharan Africa.

Fund a rising star
The enthusiastic response to the announcement of the West African Image Lab far exceeded our expectations. 20 highly qualified, talented, and dedicated candidates representing significant collections across Africa have been accepted. But 12 participants living outside of Benin are currently unable to attend due to lack of funds. Neither they nor their institutions have the financial resources to support their participation.

We are appealing to you to fund the costs of travel, lodging, and living expenses for a promising cultural heritage professional working in an at-risk African collection. We are working to meet a critical budget shortfall of $12,000.

$1,000 will cover the cost of travel and four days of lodging and living expenses for one of these promising cultural heritage professionals. Contributions in any amount will make a difference. Donations of $500 or $250 will be combined to create a travel package for a seminar participant.

Curriculum and partners
The West African Image Lab curriculum will include an introduction to the technical history of photography, image formation and deterioration, risk management, and basic collections care, including handling, housing, exhibition guidelines, and emergency planning. Delivered by lectures, demonstrations, hands-on projects, case studies, and collection visits, this workshop will prepare participate with a range of strategies for safeguarding their collections. Advocacy for these collections will be stressed as an important first step in raising awareness of the richness and importance of African photographic heritage. All lectures will be informal, offered in English or French and translated simultaneously, and designed to encourage dialogue and discussion. Participants will receive key photograph preservation texts, as well as materials to assist with the development of educational, artistic, and public programming.

West African Image Lab instructors:

Fatima Fall, Director, Centre de Recherches et de Documentation du Sénégal (CRDS), Saint-Louis, Senegal; Preventive Conservation Specialist, Université Gaston Berger, Saint-Louis, Senegal

Fallo Baba Keïta, Director, École du Patrimoine Africain, Porto-Novo, Benin

Nora W. Kennedy, Sherman Fairchild Conservator of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Adjunct Professor of Photograph Conservation, Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Bertrand Lavédrine, Professor at the National Museum of Natural History, Paris, France; Director of the Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation des Collections, Paris, France

Debra Hess Norris, Chair and Professor, Department of Art Conservation, University of Delaware, DE

We hope you will join us in taking this crucial step towards preserving our global photographic heritage.

Erin Haney and Jennifer Bajorek, Co-founders and Co-directors, Resolution

Resolution and the West African Image Lab organizing team gratefully acknowledge the support of our funders and partners: The Department of Art Conservation and Institute for Global Studies at the University of Delaware, Tru-Vue Museum Glass, University Products, C2RMF (The Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France), Deloitte, and our many generous individual donors.

Total budget is $35,000 for the April 2014 seminar. Additional funds raised will go toward a second regional workshop, to meet the extraordinary demand expressed by both our applicants and our institutional partners in Africa.

is the only organization working to preserve and promote photography collections with a focus on Africa and the only organization concerned with expanding local access to African collections for African publics. We are uniquely poised to meet the challenges faced in African collections and by those who look after them in diverse contexts on the continent.

Stay tuned for news about future seminars and related projects here, on our facebook page, or on our website.

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