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“Fred Boissonnas in Egypt” Exhibition
YEAR
2018

In March 2018, the Benaki Museum inaugurated an exhibition dedicated to the important Swiss photographer Fred Boissonnas; the exhibition ran for two months and was set up with the support of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation.

The Swiss photographer Frédéric (Fred) Boissonnas (1858-1946) was invited to Egypt in 1929 by King Fuad I to gather photographic material for the lavish publication entitled Égypte [Egypt] (Geneva, 1932). With his compatriot publisher and author Paul Trembley as a companion, he travelled the country for eleven months, creating images that referenced both the long history of the country and the identity of the newly-established Egyptian state.

In May 1933, Fred Boissonnas returned to Egypt for his last, as it turned out, photographic campaign. He visited the Sinai Peninsula and the Monastery of Saint Catherine for the second time, following the route of the Israelites as recorded in the biblical “Exodus”. The images from this trip as well as the extensive handwritten notes he kept would provide the material for a new publication, similar to Égypte, which was given the provisional title of Au Sinaï [In Sinai]. Despite Boissonnas’s efforts, the book was never published.

The exhibition “Fred Boissonnas in Egypt” focused on his photographic work for these two books, visually exploring, on the one hand, the complex narratives of the newly-founded Egyptian state (after the unilateral declaration of independence from Britain) and, on the other hand, the photographer’s own search for inspiration in the Sinai desert. The exhibition was curated by Prof. Oriana Baddeley, Professor of Art History and Dean of Research, University of the Arts London, Ms. Ewelina Warner, Research Assistant and Research Administrator, Ligatus Research Unit, University of the Arts London and Dr. George Manginis, Academic Director of the Benaki Museum.

 

  • 4,021 people visited the exhibition.
  • 170 participants took part in 6 guided tours.

 

“The ‘Fred Boissonnas in Egypt’ exhibition was planned and mounted in record time as a result of enthusiastic teamwork between the organisers, the curators and the funder. The captivating images by the Swiss artist photographer as well as the allure of Egypt at a pivotal moment in its history, when it tried to balance between tradition and modernity, shone through thanks to the concise texts, the bold design (featuring panoramic prints of Sinai desert images) and a video that escorted visitors around Saint Catherine’s Monastery through Boissonnas’s own words.”

Dr. George Manginis, Academic Director, Benaki Museum

 

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