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Hybrid Images. From photography to church painting, iconographic narratives at the Court of the Ethiopian King of kings Menelik II (1880s-1913)

ContributorsSohier, Estelle
Published inAfrican arts, vol. 49, no. 1, p. 26-39.
Publication date2016
Abstract

Photographs of Haile Selassie (r. 1930-1974) can be seen today on the streets of Addis Abeba and in books, museums and photo agencies around the world; they have gained as well a new life on the Internet, partly through Rastafarianism activism . If the reign of this King of kings has been widely depicted in photographic images, particularly in countless portraits (Hirsch and Perret 1995; Perret 1995), Haile Selassie was not the first Ethiopian ruler to exploit photography. Foreigners had brought this medium to the court of Yohannes IV (r. 1872-1889), but it was his successor, Menelik II (r. 1889-1913), who was the first to make extensive use of photography (Pankhurst 1994). A glimpse at his portraits reveals that they were laid out carefully and seem to reflect a triumphant political power (Fig. 1, 2 and 3). How can these documents be deciphered, beyond the mere observation that these scenes took place, beyond the Barthesian "it-has-been" (Barthes 1980)?

Keywords
  • Ethiopie
  • Photographie
  • Colonisation
  • Royauté
  • Histoire
  • Politique de l'image
Citation (ISO format)
SOHIER, Estelle. Hybrid Images. From photography to church painting, iconographic narratives at the Court of the Ethiopian King of kings Menelik II (1880s-1913). In: African arts, 2016, vol. 49, n° 1, p. 26–39. doi: 10.1162/afar_a_00268
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ISSN of the journal0001-9933
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