alfred weidinger searches for the last surviving monarchs of africa’s grandest kingdoms. he will go from ghana, to togo, benin, burkina faso, mali, ivory coast, guinea, senegal, mauritania to western sahara – from nigeria to niger, cameroon, chad, central african republic, congo to uganda — and from rwanda, burundi, zambia, malawi to south africa. even today there are close to 250 kings in africa, vestiges of a former age — their ancient traditions preserved, their wisdom and power still honored. his project features the kings whose dynasties have had the most impact on african history. dressed in their finest clothes and in full regalia, in honor of the occasion, these last survivors of africa’s great kingdoms are a living paradox.
the composition of the photos will be based primarily on photographs of various african chieftains, tribal elders and kings taken in the late 19th and early 20th century. these were produced by studios and ateliers that sprung up in parts of africa; the pictures were disseminated as postcards and collectibles across the continent and to the rest of the world. after all, the introduction of photography came alongside the advent of direct european colonial rule through much of africa. there was a craze to catalog and document the continent’s alien, subject peoples. there was also, in particular, an obsession with african nobility. the vintage photographs still show leaders in all their pomp and majesty, but they inevitably bear the weight of africa’s subjugation by foreign powers. today, the rulers are autonomous and self-confident. they are committed to the old traditions of their people as well as to contemporary. alfred wants to portray (in black and white) the splendor and vitality of these legendary leaders — whose legacy lives on — despite changing times. alfred weidinger, author of numerous art books, will publish an extraordinary volume about the last kings of africa.
trained as an art historian, alfred has a unique point of view that combines a “painterly” quality with a humanistic accent on people. he specializes in photo journalistic and travel photography. his passion is black and white, capturing the beauty of the people and everyday life. africa is his favorite continent for photography. he works exclusively with the leica, uses 50mm lenses more than telephoto, and his main photographic tool is a leica m3 (build 1958), a leica m9 and a leica m monochrom with noctilux-m 50mm, 75mm and 21mm lenses.
the project is dedicated to andreas kaufmann and peter coeln.