Black and white photos in the gutter and early Photo studios goes oblivion in Cameroon.
(De Montfort University)
Paper short abstract:
Government policies, armed conflict, technology and the frustration of early studio photographer in Cameroon has gradually removed them from their profession. So too is the abandonment of heir archives to deteriorating conditions.
Paper long abstract:
Treasury street before the crumble of 1975 federation was the heartbeat of Bamenda in Cameroon. Today it is called "Old" treasury street. This is where important businesses and photographic professionals were launched. Walking down and across the streets, you will find old painted signpost bearing a photo studio, place in an awkward manner beside the wall of an enlarged printed post of building materials. Interestingly owned by the same person who swift from selling and taking to researcher about black and white photos. Spaces for photos are taken over by plastics pipes. Landlords renovates houses that host old photo studios without photographers' consent since they can't meet up with rent. Foreign photographers in frustration prefer to go back home especially with the ongoing armed conflict. Qualitatively, l participates, observe, interview, elicit photos and oral discussion from one neighbourhood to another, discovering monochrome photos in the gutters as l move on. Black and white photos that freeze a moment, absorb, communicate and create meanings as ethnographic material seem neglected in Cameroon. Is it government policy? What about the bureaucracy in archives? What were and how are the different ministerial red lines affecting this domain? What could be done to early photographers, to maintain their dignity and so their archives? The Yaoundé declaration? How can cease fire be hasten up so foreign photographers stay back with their repositories? These are the questions and problem that this paper attempt to address in the Cameroonian Grass field early black and white photos repositories.
Photo archives: silence and blindness