First Solo US Exhibition of Works by Patrick Tourneboeuf

April 5, 2017

The Diamond Trace: Kimberley South Africa in Photographs by Patrick Tourneboeuf
On view April 12, 2017–September 4, 2017
Kurtz Gallery for Photography, MIT Museum

Cambridge, MAThe MIT Museum’s Kurtz Gallery for Photography presents the first solo US exhibition of French photographer Patrick Tourneboeuf (b. Paris, 1966) in The Diamond Trace: Kimberley South Africa in Photographs.

In the MIT exhibition, Tourneboeuf examines the afterlife of Kimberley, South Africa, a city that grew after the discovery of a large diamond, and declined when the gems became scarce. Through captivating images of its streets and squares, center and outskirts, stadium and cemetery, and famous “Big Hole,” Tourneboeuf examines the social landscape of Kimberley. The exhibition is on view from April 12-September 4, 2017 and is organized and curated by Gary Van Zante, curator of architecture and photography at the MIT Museum. Photographs on view in the exhibition are from the series entitled Trace, Kimberleyand were when Tourneboeuf and other photographers, French and African, were invited to Kimberley in 2012 to record the city.  It features 41 photographs including several large scale works as well as a series of iphone pictures Tourneboeuf made of Kimberley and an interview with the artist.

In 1866, the discovery of a massive diamond caused the birth of the city of Kimberley, South Africa, situated in the desert of the Great Karoo. The diamond trace made colonial industrialists such as Cecil Rhodes and his De Beers Mining Company immensely wealthy. Since the peak of diamond mining in Kimberley, in the 1870s through the early 20th century, the city has risen and fallen, and the De Beers mine is now closed. The photos taken in 2012 in the series Traces present all the remains, traces of a more prosperous era when Kimberley was South Africa’s second city (after Johannesburg). Today, with the collapse of local industry and the diamond trade, the city is searching for a sustainable future.

Gary Van Zante, Curator of architecture and photography at the MIT Museum comments that “Kimberley may seem remote (and it is) but the issues of sustainability are universal. What happens to a community, especially a “company town” like Kimberley, when the major industry and principal employer departs? Kimberley has its own special conditions but we can learn from its history. Photography can be an incisive tool in understanding urban change, as Patrick Tourneboeuf’s work demonstrates.”

Public Programs
There will be programs in conjunction with the exhibition including a guided tour led by Van Zante and Tourneboeuf on April 12, as well as an event for MIT students, coordinate by Urban Africa, a student organization in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP).

About Patrick Tourneboeuf
Born in 1966 in Paris, Patrick Tourneboeuf portrays men by photographing the traces they leave behind them, the places they bring to life and, sometimes, abandon. Using a large-format camera, his method, resolutely artistic, systematic, recounts times past and present. The absence of an image reveals a human presence.

He started by working on the monumental aspect of the Paris “périphérique”, with a series that is both nocturnal and contemplative, as opposed to the more classic photographs of the well known circular belt.

In the year 2000, his next series entitled “Huis-clos” (Behind Closed Doors) was based on the everyday life of new recruits into the French Navy, at the Naval Instruction Centre of Querqueville. The same year, Patrick explored seaside resorts when completely out of season. This became the starting point of a series entitled “Nulle part” (Nowhere). Next came “Cicatrice” (Scar), a documentary on the remnants of the Berlin Wall, and “À la mémoire du jour J” (In Memory of D-Day), depicts the beaches in Normandy where the Allies landed. Two facets of an art project that feeds a memory which tends to forget, also taking into account the altering effect of time.

Since 1999, he has been working on a photographic research project for the French Ministry of Culture, on several historic monuments: the Grand Palais, the Chateau de Versailles and the National Archives. He is part of the collective Tendance Floue.

About the MIT Museum

The MIT Museum's mission is to engage the wider community with MIT's science, technology and other areas of scholarship in ways that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. The Museum features two floors filled with ongoing and changing exhibitions, currently with an emphasis on robotics, photography and holography, MIT history, and current MIT research. The Museum presents monthly programs that appeal to middle school students and older, and presents the annual Cambridge Science Festival in late April.

About the Arts at MIT

The arts at MIT connect creative minds across disciplines and encourage a lifetime of exploration and self-discovery. They are rooted in experimentation, risk-taking and imaginative problem-solving. The arts strengthen MIT's commitment to the aesthetic, human, and social dimensions of research and innovation. Artistic knowledge and creation exemplify our motto— mens et manus, mind and hand. The arts are essential to MIT's mission to build a better society and meet the challenges of the 21st century.

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