Friday, May 18, 2007

Exhibition: Small Worlds: Travel photography of the 19th century

The exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (Australia) looks at travel photography world wide, but includes some notable images of Egypt.
"When Maxime Du Camp published the first illustrated book of images of the Middle East, it became a bestseller. In 1849, the French government, concerned that the Egyptian people would squander their own history, sent Du Camp to Egypt to photograph archeological sites and inscriptions. His travelling companion was Gustave Flaubert, who wrote: 'I had my first sight of the Orient through, or rather in, a glowing light that was like melted silver on the sea.'
Such poetic descriptions of the East had been feeding the Western imagination since the 1700s, but there remained a lingering fear of the dangers that its exotic locales might present. Here again, photographers did their bit for the burgeoning tourist trade.
In Ascension of the Grand Pyramid, Peridis captures a group of Europeans being escorted, sometimes hand in hand, by evidently friendly locals. 'I've found heaps of these images,' Finch says. 'One of the rationales for these photos was that they presented a really safe view of Egypt. The idea that you could go and, even though it was in this very exotic location, it was welcoming and they would help you.' "
See the above page for the full story.

Small Worlds: Travel photography of the 19th century is at NGV International until September 30 2007. A web page dedicated to the exhibition can be found on the NGV's website, accompanied by a lovely photograph from Athens, at: