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Stéphane Martin

Preface by Stéphane Martin

Stéphane Martin
Stéphane Martin © musée du quai Branly, photo Greg Semu

In 2009, the musée du quai Branly was three years old. Since it opened on the 23rd June 2006, 4,520,000 visitors have come to admire the richness of our collections and the beauty of our works, congratulating and encouraging us, and passing on their observations and their wishes. In general terms, the major choices made by the musée du quai Branly have been well received, including the decision to retain a significant place for contemporary art, alongside our older collections. Born out of the desire to reject an aristocratic notion of knowledge which results in the hierarchisation of society and the arts, the museum challenges the idea that the term 'non-European art' refers to a primitive or ' basic' state of artistic creation. It thus continues to celebrate the vitality of contemporary work in the countries from which its collections originate.

For this reason, I decided, in 2007, to create a Biennial event dedicated to photography. Such an event seemed the best way of looking at the different forms taken by the dialogue between different cultures today, with the help of the modern media. The success encountered by the first edition of Photoquai, led us to continue this voyage of discovery through non-western photography, and to extend its run by a month. From the 22nd September to the 22nd November 2009, the second edition of this international event will unveil other current views on the world, and will give an account of the diversity of ways in which the non-western world is perceived today, from the inside, by artists who live there, far from the clichés often conveyed by some travel photography. In this way, European and other Western travel photographers will make way for artists from the countries in question who have never yet exhibited in Europe.

The artistic direction of this second edition has been entrusted to Anahita Ghabaian Etehadieh, Iranian gallerist and founder of the Silk Road Gallery, a unique place in her country, specifically dedicated to photography. To make
Photoquai a major ‘‘Biennial event of world images’’, she has called on foreign curators specialised in photography and on personalities of the photographic world in Paris. So, Photoquai calls on us to discover artists who wish to bring us a personal view of their world, a view which is sometimes intimate and often surprising, sometimes revealing discrepancies with our existing perceptions.

Photoquai's aim is therefore to share and to compare different images of modernity. For that reason, I am happy that several other institutions wished to be associated with the project, either by renewing their commitment to the musée du quai Branly --- such as the Australian Embassy --- or by joining, for the first time, this major Biennial event of world images --- such as the Paris Musée d’Art Moderne or the Japanese Cultural Centre. The visitor is invited to take an unusual walk along the banks of the Seine, along the quai Branly, and discover the works of 50 contemporary photographers whose works are displayed outside. The walk then continues in the musée du quai Branly with a presentation of 165 years of Iranian photography, set in the heart of the main collections area; and in the Pavillon des Sessions, where Portraits
, photographs from the musée du quai Branly interact, contrast and resonate with the works exhibited. Photoquai continues on its way, thus naturally confirming its place amongst the top events in Parisian culture.


Stéphane Martin,

President of the musée du quai Branly