Torino Foto Festival – New Landscapes

A Burden Consumed in Sips

Lebohang Kganye


Palazzo Carignano

The starting point of the exhibition project is a bundle of photographs and drawings by German painter and photographer Marie Pauline Thorbecke. Thorbecke undertook an expedition to Cameroon on assignment from the German Colonial Society between 1911 and 1913, together with her husband Franz Thorbecke. For fifteen months, Marie Pauline Thorbecke wrote diary letters detailing their Cameroon trek and sent them back home in Germany. The diary letters were later published as a book: On the Savannah: Marie Pauline Thorbecke (1990, Geary, Christraud M.). 110 years later, Kganye follows her footsteps through the country and weaves together memories, impressions and narratives, all from a female perspective.

A Burden Consumed in Sips (2023) is a hybrid animation live-action film of 22 screen panels, resembling the panoramic format of the landscape illustrations. The film documents Kganye’s travel to Cameroon to piece together the trek detailed in Thorbecke’s book. Throughout the journey, she carries a diary in one hand and a heavy cloth bag in the other. The bag, made of indigo fabric, contained objects to be returned to where they originally belonged in Cameroon – this is a reference to the objects listed in the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum and collected by the Thorbecke’s. The act of returning the objects, the soil and the vegetation to their country of origin prompts one to think, repair and recast the past by considering restitution as an act of possibility.