The Boston University Art Gallery Presents Exposures: Other Histories in Early Postcards from Africa

Contact: Lauren Davalla, 617-358-1688 |

(Boston) – The Boston University Art Gallery (BUAG) continues its 2008-2009 season with the presentation of Exposures: Other Histories in Early Postcards from Africa. The exhibit presents early African postcards as a reflection of life on the continent between 1870 and the 1930s.

The exhibition is a collaborative effort between Cynthia Becker, Assistant Professor of African Art at Boston University and Christraud M. Geary, Teel Curator of African and Oceanic Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It showcases selections from private collections and creates a poignant display of postcards produced from images by both African and foreign photographers during that era. Cynthia Becker says: “Instead of focusing on European stereotypes so prevalent in photography during colonialism, we wanted to show indigenous African self-portrayal and demonstrate how Africans took control of their own self-images.”

The picture postcards in this exhibition expose Africans as cosmopolitan people, participating in creative exchange and imaginative engagement across lines of difference. They reveal other histories, showing how the lives of Africans unfolded in vibrant cities during the colonial era and how Africans fashioned their own cosmopolitan image of modernity. The postcards also demonstrate that African rulers recognized the power of the image to legitimize their rule and used photography and by extension postcards for this purpose.

“We wonder if the Africans depicted in these postcards knew their personal photographs had second lives,” says Becker. Today the images on these cards help modern audiences better understand African agency and other histories, which typically have been subverted and forgotten over time.
Dedicated to serving the public of New England as well as the university community, Boston University Art Gallery (BUAG) is a non-profit art gallery geared toward an interdisciplinary interpretation of art and culture. Maintaining an ongoing exhibition schedule in its current location since 1958, now named the Stone Gallery, exhibitions focus on international, national, and regional art developments, chiefly in the twentieth century. BUAG has a particular commitment to offer a culturally inclusive view of art, one that expands the boundaries of museum exhibitions.
BUAG is located at 855 Commonwealth Avenue, at the Stone Gallery inside the College of Fine Arts building on the Boston University campus (BU West T stop on the “B” Green Line). Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Saturday & Sunday 1:00 – 5:00 PM (closed Mondays and holidays). For more information, please visit


Saturday, November 22 at 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM

Symposium: “Cosmopolitan Identities and Alternative Histories: Africans in Front and Behind the Camera” (Boston University African Studies Center, 270 Bay State Road)

Tuesday, December 9 at 4:00 PM
Curators Cynthia Becker and Christraud Geary will lead a discussion of the art and explore the conception of the exhibit. (Boston University Stone Gallery)