Prita Meier, the co-curator, chose these postcards because “they show the compelling and amazing ways” that people living on the Swahili coast quickly embraced photography, especially portraits, and made the art their own. Meier is the author of a forthcoming book about photography on the Swahili coast from the 1870s to the 1970s and is an assistant professor of art history at New York University.
Between about 1890 and 1920, when the photos for the postcards in this exhibition were taken, sitting for portraits had become a popular, inexpensive pastime. It was a fun way to spend time with friends and family — kind of like those photo booths at the mall or the old-timey dress-up studios in beach towns.
I find these images so interesting and maybe you will too!
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