Photographic and filmic exploration in Sudan
The Oriental Museum hosts a year round programme of exciting guest exhibitions. Oriental Museum exhibitions explore and engage with the civilizations and cultures of Asia, Egypt, Islamic North Africa, and the Near and Middle East.
Disappearing heritage of Sudan, 1820 – 1956: Photographic and filmic exploration in Sudan
This exhibition is the result of photographic and filmic research by Frederique Cifuentes in Sudan from 2004 to 2010. Comprised of Cifuentes’ original material and historic photographs from Durham University’s Sudan Archive, the exhibition offers a new and unique documentation of the remnants of the colonial experience in Sudan from the Ottoman, Egyptian and British periods. It explores how these physical remains of empire have been appropriated in Sudan since Independence.
Presenting a different way of looking at imperial history, Disappearing heritage is an exploration in the mechanics of empires through its official buildings, private residencies, cinema houses, railways, irrigation canals and bridges. It highlights the colonial architecture, its design and construction, and explores the impact it had on Sudanese society before and after Independence in 1956. It helps us to see how people have used and understood the buildings, many of which have fallen victim to wider economic development or lack of a preservation campaign. This exhibition shows different aspects and forms of the rich colonial architectural heritage in Sudan before it vanishes completely. It is an illustrated history of a unique cultural landscape.
The exhibition will be shown at the Oriental Museum in Durham from 17th January to 30th April 2013. It will then move to the University of Khartoum, Sudan from September to December 2013. It has previously been shown at the Brunei Gallery in London.
Disappearing Heritage of Sudan 1820-1956
Public talks to accompany the exhibition
Darfur and the British: Images and realities
Saturday 13th April, 2pm, Lecture Theatre, EH009, Elvet Hill House, DH1 3TH
Dr Christopher Vaughan (Durham University)
Mass media images of Darfur in the early twenty-first century have focused on representations of suffering and violence: advocacy groups, most notably the Save Darfur Campaign promoted these images to place pressure on the US government in particular to ‘take action’ in the region. This talk takes a rather different set of images as its starting point: the photographic archive of the British in Darfur, who administered the region between 1916 and 1956. Images of Darfur created at this time create a very different impression of the region to the present-day, for obvious reasons. Yet this difference has a particular political significance. Recent images have focused almost exclusively on images of violence and destruction, to promote one sort of political agenda; it might be argued that colonial photography was part of another kind of political agenda.
Colonial photography in Darfur portrayed an antique and exotic world, characterised by colonial peace and order, building up a photographic archive which legitimised colonial rule, and excluded evidence of violence and suffering inflicted by the state itself. This talk therefore considers the extent of the value of the photographic archive for our understanding of British colonial rule in Darfur.
Saturday 20th April, 2pm, lecture theatre Elvet Hill House
The making of a Victorian icon: Gordon of Khartoum
Professor Justin Willis (Durham University)
Charles George Gordon was already a public figure before the siege of Khartoum in 1884-5. But his death in the siege turned him into an object of near-veneration; images of his life and death were widely circulated, and multiple statues erected in his honour. After the reconquest of Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1896-98, Gordon was incorporated as a central element in the symbols and ritual of the Condominium. This lecture will describe that process, and ask what the apotheosis of Gordon tells us about late-Victorian Britain, and about British rule in Sudan.
Saturday 27th April, 2pm, lecture theatre Elvet Hill House
The Jews and the Longest Kiss in History
Film Screening followed by Q&A with the director, Frederique Cifuentes
Where the Blue and the White Nile meet is known as the longest kiss in history. This is where the story of the Jews in the Sudan starts with eight Jewish families living under Egyptian-Turkish rule before 1880. In 1945 the Jewish population of Sudan numbered near a thousand, today it is zero.
In 1977 a group of Jewish people, having fled persecution in the Sudan during the 60’s, organised a highly secret mission to transfer the buried remains in the Jewish cemetery and the Torah Scrolls from Khartoum to Jerusalem. This film reveals the unusual journey of the sacred books away from the Sudan to make known how this most enigmatic community has kept its identity as, The Jews of Sudan.
‘The Jews and the longest kiss in history’ is a journey through history told by those that experienced it at firsthand. The film chronicles life under the Mahdi, the effect of British imperialism on the community and the eventual exile and deliberate obliteration of all signs of Judaism in the Sudan.
The filmmaker has gained unprecedented access to more than fifty members of the ex-Sudan Jewish community, informing the research. This is a story of a “white” Jewish minority located where the Arab world meets black Africa.
These talks are free and accessible to all. No prior knowledge about Sudan is needed!
Hinduism in India: Culture, Ritual & Community
24th May – 30th September 2013
Hinduism is the religion of most people in India, more than 827 million people among the population of 1.02 billion follow the Hindu faith. Elements of the faith stretch back many thousands of years. Hinduism has no one founder; no one scripture; and no commonly agreed set of teachings.
Centred around recreated Hindu shrines, this exhibition tells the story of the religious life of millions of people in India. Objects reflecting both ritual and daily life; dramatic prints; and photographs provide an insight into this vibrant culture.