Society and Change in Northern Ghana | Jan Banning’s photo's deleted

For the project Society and Change in Northern Ghana, Noorderlicht commissioned several photographers to visualize various relevant subjects. The acclaimed photographer Jan Banning was one of them. He portrayed the chiefs in Northern Ghana. We were very satisfied with the result. Still, on closer inspection, we no longer use Banning's work. This decision has nothing to do with political correctness or fear, as many people have now screamed eagerly through social media. However, it has everything to do with our assumption that when you, as a photographer, work on a project, you have to deal with it respectfully. Jan Banning used almost identical work from our project for his The Sweating Subject, a so-called parody of colonial photography. We find that disrespectful to all those involved in Ghana and to our honesty also to Noorderlicht itself. This view is shared by our Ghanaian partners. Banning knows that, but he chose to put it aside, because he, as he expressed, was not convinced. 
Society and Change in Northern Ghana aims to broaden, deepen, and nuance the image of Northern Ghana. The Western image of Africa is determined by a view of the continent, which, however you turn or turn, is still influenced by the visual colonial traditions. With the project The Sweating Subject this image is being continued and therefore goes against the intention of our project. It's that simple. 

Of course Banning is free to do what he has done. But we are free to assess The Sweating Subject in terms of content and ethica as substandard. That is why in future we want to avoid any link that is to be made between our Northern Ghana project and Banning. That is precisely why we, after close consultation with the Ghanaian partners, have taken Banning's work out of our project. We have found a good alternative for that. 

After this incident, we are once again aiming for the full 100% of the realization of our Ghana project with the first result a beautiful book, which will be presented in Tamale (North Ghana) next autumn, together with an exhibition that will travel through Ghana. and will certainly also take over our country later on.

Kees van der Meiden
Director Noorderlicht | House of Photography
(Photo: © Patrick Willocq)