By Arts Media Contacts with Ogova Ondego
Published February 11, 2014
An exhibition of photographs of buildings in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, is set to run in London, United Kingdom, May 1-June 12, 2014.
The exhibition, Mogadishu: Lost Moderns, is a collaboration between British photographer Andrew Cross and British-Somali architect Rashid Ali. The set of images to be showcased at 60 De Beauvoir Crescent, London N1 5SB, documents the modernist architectural legacy of Mogadishu that has been in ruins since 1991 when the government of Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the Horn of Africa country went into anarchy.
Cross is said to have visited several symbolic public buildings—including the Somali National Theatre—in the war-devastated city in July 2013.
Though now stripped to the bare essentials of concrete walls and floor, the Somali National Theatre nevertheless maintains a definite sense of its built purpose as a theatre, in a culture where the tradition of performance is strong.
Despite the patina of ruination, the sad tranquility of the theatre is in stark contrast to the atmosphere of conflict usually associated with Mogadishu.
The work produced in Mogadishu is part of Mogadishu: Lost Moderns, which will also be exhibited at The Mosaic Rooms London in March 2014.
Alongside these images of Mogadishu will be those of another theatre found in contrasting circumstances.
Two years ago, Cross photographed—with safety curtain down—the stage of the Royal Opera House as seen from every single seat in the auditorium.
For the first time, Cross will be exhibiting a small selection of the 2,500 resulting images. Dominated by sumptuous reds and gold and royal crest, these images remind viewers that without attended performance and audience, the empty silent auditorium is very much a ghost of the flamboyant opulence associated with the Opera House.
There is a correspondence between this Royal Opera House work and earlier work, where Cross has photographed and filmed the sites of iconic 1970s rock festivals. Both projects demonstrate the formal rigor and frustration in documenting an event which is absent.
Andrew Cross’ work has covered a range of subjects. These include the English landscape, North American trains, 1970s rock music and urban infrastructure.
What ties together his various interests and distinctly formal approach to his photographs and moving-image work is the limitations of visual representations in offering any true account of what is being pictured.