Print Sales Gallery presents Amani, the latest body of work from Siberian photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva (b.1985). Following her critically acclaimed series Weather Man (2014), and using an equally compelling visual and narrative-rich approach, Amani tells the fascinating story of the once lauded, now semi- abandoned Amani Malaria Research Station in East Africa, through the experience of its devoted former lab assistant, John Mganga.
Suspended on a hilltop in the northeastern reaches of Tanzania, lies a tranquil expanse of forestry famed for its rich biodiversity. It is here that an immense botanical research centre was founded by German colonists in the late 19th Century - complete with imported gardens and coffee plantations. After the First World War, the British slowly converted the station into the leading malaria research site in British Africa, hosting scientists and researchers from across the world in their quest to better comprehend, control and prevent the conditions that breed Malaria and other tropical diseases.
To aid their developing studies, the scientists enlisted the help of villagers to support their work. Many of the villagers felt naturally wary of these new inhabitants and mistrustful of their ‘modern medicines’, which they regarded as supernatural. But others, like Amani’s protagonist John who became a lab assistant there, the station came to symbolise a world beyond village life, a place of dreams and innovation, a space they would cherish long after the end of British colonial rule and the labs’ desertion by the scientists in the 1970s.
Working with the anthropologists of the 'Traces of the future' project (ESRC), Arbugaeva spent two months photographing the now defunct lab, the modernist buildings and its library. Through the eyes and guidance of its loyal caretaker, John, she captures both the significance of the centre and his role there, revealing the rituals and routines of a once ordered existence and its subsequent demise.
Combining documentary with magical realism, these twelve beautifully observed, sensual and cinematic compositions seamlessly merge fact and fiction, symbol and myth, personal and public narratives. Blending the mundane with the supernatural, Arbugaeva focuses in on themes of isolation and unfulfilled promise, using John and the objects as pictorial metaphors for the stories and aspirations of the people and the science that was once pioneered here.
Each image hints at its wider context: European trees and medicinal plants, complete with their Latin labels are shown nestled between local species; a colony of (lovingly tendered to) white mice act both as fairytale characters and laboratory evidence; scientific instruments and a fully stocked library stand poised for use in the hopes that one day the scientists might return. The quiet, gentle presence of John is felt in every shot, his care and attention, hopes and dreams realised explicitly and implicitly without sentimentality.
Prices range from €1500 to €5200 + VAT with prints produced in varying dimensions.
For further press information and image requests please contact:
Grace O’Connor on + 44 (0) 207 087 9346 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for Editors
Evgenia Arbugaeva was born in 1985 in the town of Tiksi. In her work she often looks into her
homeland—the Arctic, discovering and capturing the remote worlds and people who inhabit them. Arbugaeva has been a winner of various competitions. She is a recipient of the ICP Infinity Award, Leica Oskar Barnack Award and the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund Grant. Her work has been exhibited internationally and appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, National Geographic, Le Monde, among others.
Print Sales at The Photographers’ Gallery is committed to offering expert advice to a new generation of collectors as well as major buyers, corporate collections and public institutions. It strives to provide opportunities for supporting and promoting emerging photographic talent alongside more established names. Print Sales currently represents thirty-five photographers and offers British and international, modern and vintage work for sale. In addition to these Print Sales also offers rare buying opportunities through its scheme of Gallery Editions in which world-renowned photographers and artists donate a limited edition print of their work to help support the Gallery. Each year the Print Sales space stages five selling exhibitions highlighting the works of its represented photographers. All profits from the sale of photographic works at Print Sales goes back to support the public programme of The Photographers’ Gallery. To see the full list of represented photographers and works available for purchase please visit www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk
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