Dry
Abdo Shanan

01.06 — 21.08.2022

The Centre de la photographie Genève presents the first the first major solo exhibition of Abdo Shanan, a Sudanese-Algerian photographer based in Algiers. Primarily focused on one of his long-term projects entitled Dry, the show will explore questions of identity and representation closely related to his personal experience.

In 2009, after spending a major part of his childhood and adolescent years in Libya, Abdo Shanan returned to Algeria, where he began to develop his interest in photography. It grew progressively and first materialised in 2012 with an internship at Magnum in Paris. He thinks of his work as a photographic exploration, anchored in a deep and urgent need to capture the reality of his generation in Algeria. Abdo Shanan’s work offers a narrative counterpoint to a visual history predominantly written by the colonial powers, and to news images that reduce Algeria to a series of crises. Photography is therefore for him a tool for self-affirmation, which translates the need to make one’s voice heard and the urgency of asserting agency over one’s own story, a narrative woven from the contradictions of one’s identity, deconstructed with the strength of one’s experience.

In Dry, Abdo Shanan questions places linked to identity: nation-states, topographies, first names, or experiences become points of departure, each questioned in turn. The thinker W.E.B. DuBois, in the transition from the 19th to the 20th century, wrote of the African American self in terms of the experience of «double consciousness», an inner conflict, lived as perpetual violence that dominant and binary systems of thought impose. From a similar starting point, Abdo Shanan constructs a plural and complex self which thrives in a network of people, experiences, places, questioning imposed limits.

Alongside his individual practice as a photographer, Abdo Shanan dedicates his time to collective and curatorial projects. In 2015, he co-founded the collective of Algerian photographers 220. In 2020, he co-curated the exhibition Narratives from Algeria with Danaé Panchaud at Photoforum Pasquart in Biel. In 2021, he was awarded the grant On the Road Again by Pro Helvetia with the collectives 220 and KOZ.


Artist file

Abdo Shanan * 1982 in Oran, Algeria, lives in Algiers, Algeria

Born in Oran, Algeria, in 1982, to a Sudanese father and an Algerian mother. Abdo Shanan studied telecommunications engineering at the University of Sirte, Libya, until 2006. Returning to Algeria in 2009, his growing interest in photography first materialized in 2012 with an internship at Magnum in Paris. His work of photographic exploration is rooted in a deep and urgent desire to capture and depict the reality of his generation in Algeria, and to offer a counter-narrative to a visual histo [...]

Born in Oran, Algeria, in 1982, to a Sudanese father and an Algerian mother. Abdo Shanan studied telecommunications engineering at the University of Sirte, Libya, until 2006. Returning to Algeria in 2009, his growing interest in photography first materialized in 2012 with an internship at Magnum in Paris. His work of photographic exploration is rooted in a deep and urgent desire to capture and depict the reality of his generation in Algeria, and to offer a counter-narrative to a visual history written by the colonial powers, and to current images. reducing Algeria to a series of crises. Thus, photography becomes for him a tool of self-affirmation, of the legitimacy of his voice and of the urgency of being the author of his own story.

Alongside his individual practice as a photographer, which has earned him a growing national and international reputation, including several international photography awards in 2019-2020, Abdo Shanan devotes himself to collective and curatorial projects, always with the aim of put forward new contemporary looks. Thus, in 2015, he co-founded the 220 collective, a collective of Algerian photographers. In 2020, he co-curated the Narratives from Algeria exhibition with Danaé Panchaud at the Photoforum Pasquart in Switzerland. In 2021, he won the On the Road Again grant from Pro Helvetia with the collectives 220 and KOZ.

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