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1943_KLDE ch.1

Below you find the first chapter of the unpublished English manuscript of Campfires Along the Equator titled “God’s own devils”. The translation was produced during the second World War, after the success of the first editions of the Dutch version of the book.

The chapter narrates the climb of Mount Kunon, mentioned in the goodbye letter to Paul Julien, read as part of the launch of this website on May 27th 2021.

Click on the reproductions for enlarged, readable, versions of pages of the manuscript, including correction by Paul Julien.

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2021_A goodbye letter to Dr. Paul Julien

“Almost everything […] is invented. But it’s not a game. It’s a form.”

Tim O’Brien in The Things They Carried, p.171

“Let me not just tell you all of this but rather allow you to see it for yourself.”

Paul Julien in a radio lecture broadcasted January 26th 1941

PB 1934 Dambarra Village Portrait

 

May 27th 2020

Dear Dr. Julien,

I am happy to inform you that I have finally found an appropriate and comprehensive mode of presentation, a Good Form so to speak, in which to present the activation of your legacy. Before I introduce you to it, there are two nagging questions that kept popping up as I developed this form. What did Good Form mean to you? And by extension which Truth did you present to your Dutch audiences? 

As I see it, Tim O’Brien’s use of the words “Good Form” and “Truth” in his novel ‘The Things They Carried’ (1990) are important. O’Brien (1946) is an American novelist and army veteran who, in this book, writes about some of his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War. There are fewer narratives in the book than there are chapters. That is, the same narrative is told several times through different perspectives that overlap and to some extent contradict each other. In the shortest chapter of the book, O’Brien suggests, and I paraphrase him here, ‘that Good Form is about making things present. About looking at things one never looked at. About being able to be brave and about being able to feel, or feel again,’ rather than about being true to what was experienced. He speaks in this regard about two types of truth, Happening Truth and Story Truth. The former being what was experienced by those who took part in an event, the latter what is presented to- and experienced by those encountering a narrative.

I assume you would agree with Timothy O’Brien that these truths exist and are important to distinguish. In your case, for instance, there is a truth in which you spent barely more than three weeks in Sierra Leone and another one in which you were stuck in a rainy camp for two months before embarking on the challenging climb up Mount Kunon

The first truth is the one I deducted from your notebook and the letters written to your parents. The second truth is the one told by you in the first chapter of your book ‘Campfires Along the Equator’

This book is still widely available in second hand book stores in the Netherlands, as I’m sure you can imagine due to the sheer number of editions produced. It cements the Story Truth of ‘an African life’, posited throughout the 1930s in your radio lectures. With increasing amazement I have noted how you maintained this claim over the six decades of your life that followed the initial publication of the book in 1940, including almost forty years in which you no longer set foot on the African continent.

While working with historical photographs in Uganda between 2008 and 2012 I developed an understanding of the limitations of my western-informed reading of pictures.[1] This resulted in the platform History in Progress Uganda and eventually in the PhD dissertation Ebifananyi, a study of photographs in Uganda in and through an artistic practice Where I, for instance, only saw colonial propaganda, it was pointed out to me that the meaning and value of such photographs was not limited to the intention with which they were made. These pictures also included clues about life in Uganda beyond the interest of the colonial context. These clues could only be made meaningful by Ugandan elders. They should be facilitated to share their observations with a younger generation in order to help them make sense of their – our – present. Building on such experiences, I consider your photographs to be capable of initiating wider conversations that could in turn provide alternatives for your framing of the African past and thus contribute to a multi-directional mode of remembrance.

This brings me back to the Good Form I developed, as it aims to contribute to a remembrance that does not take your positioning of the past, presented in the photographs you produced, at face value. This Good Form aims to be critical and inclusive. Critical of the colonial conditions in which you operated; of the privileges; the more and less overt racism present in your language and tangible in a substantial part of the photographs you produced. Inclusive in terms of audience, where your audience was exclusively European, the one I aim to reach out to includes people on and from the African continent. In fact, in the context of the Good Form that I developed, I do not think of them as members of an audience but as visitors to a virtual space. A virtual space constructed through an open ended stream of encounters from which I hope they all benefit. The idea is that the space itself is open to, and will develop further through, responses by visitors.

With this Good Form, I intervene in the state in which the pictures you produced used to be available, illustrating your texts in books and printed media and appearing alongside your stories in television shows. The interventions manifest in simple animations that I think of as Breathing Photographs in which pictures that have a significant formal overlap blend into one another in a tempo that is close to the lower average respiration rate of human breathing. 

Five seconds in, five seconds out. 

In the Breathing Photographs, the scenes that were photographed by you are present but never fixed. The singularity of the individual photographic frame is literally expanded in space and through time. As such, the Breathing Photographs resist the normality that existed with your publications in which it was a matter of course that ‘we’ in Europe could look at ‘them’ in Africa. 

Making these Breathing Photographs expands my understanding of the events, as well as the intensity with which you photographed. An example of this is the Breathing Photograph that consists of twenty four exposures made on August 8th or 9th 1934 in Dambarra. You may recall Paramount Chief Moriba Kargobai organising performances of masks, dancers and musicians for you. Combining the twenty four individual frames also reconstructs a panoramic view of the village.

I am no longer limited to the materiality of photographs for their presence. Instead I can source photographs, reproduce them, share them individually and make them publicly available through a digital, electronic network. Through this network the Breathing Photographs appear on demand on screens owned, perhaps not by everyone, but by many, including Moriba Kargobai’s son Desmond Kargobai, who is the current Paramount Chief of Selenga Chiefdom, including Dambarra village.

This same network makes it possible for me to bring pictures together from different origins, produced by your predecessors, contemporaries or me. They still overlap formally as well as in content with photographs from your legacy. The resultant Breathing Photographs provide insights into historical conventions and make it possible to compare your past to our present.

The Breathing Photographs are presented in a radically networked way. The brief texts that accompany them include connections that can be electronically activated and lead to other related Breathing Photographs. Through these connections, members of the audience are invited to find their own route through your legacy, reframed in Breathing Photographs. This Good Form does not present a linear narrative. Instead stories are given a chance to unfold in the engagement of visitors.

The Breathing Photographs allow me and visitors of the virtual space to reconstruct, to speculate and to develop open ended dialogical yet critical formations of imagination. They are both a research method and a provisional outcome of my research. They allow me to centralise the photographic encounter and its visual output or origin while investigating your legacy and to decentralise spoken and written text. This contrasts quite sharply with the data you collected and the facts, figures and ethnographic observations in which you presented your research.

In the letters I wrote with you as an addressee over the past two years you have a central position. These letters were a Good Form in the sense that they forced me to be inclusive of you and the conventions that informed your actions. They generated, you could say, a Happening Truth. Thanks to this form I could not simply distance myself from your position that I, as elaborated on in previous letters, found and find so deeply troubling. Now that I have this Good Form at my disposal I can say goodbye to you and fully focus on what I can learn from working with the photographs you so skillfully produced. For which, myself and seemingly many of the people who have contributed to the activation of your legacy with me, remain grateful,

With best regards, 

Andrea

TB 2020 Mount Kunon

References

References
1 This resulted in the platform History in Progress Uganda and eventually in the PhD dissertation Ebifananyi, a study of photographs in Uganda in and through an artistic practice
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2021_Article “Towards a Breathing Archive” in art historical journal (Dutch only)

I was invited to contribute to an issue of the art historical journal of students and alumni of University Utrecht named Article, devoted to “The Restless Archive”. The title of the Dutch text translates into “Towards a Breathing Archive”, all the visuals can be found as Breathing Photographs with the tag Sierra Leone. The text can be read by clicking on the pictures.

 

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1960_Angola itinerary

This itinerary is based on documents from Paul Julien’s personal collection, which are currently in the care of the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. Over time it will become more detailed and intricately networked. [1]last updated 2021-05-23

July 09 Letter from “Michaël van den Akker N.V. Kantoormachines en systemen” confirming agreement on loan of ‘Dictet Recorder’ & accessories. 

July 10 Ticket Amsterdam (The Netherlands) – Kano (Nigeria).

July 12 Ticket Kano – Luanda (Angola)

July 12 Letter to Elly Julien Roberts from Kano while waiting for airplane to Luanda via Bangui (Central African Republic). Letter from J.P. Magrath, Shell offices, on meeting in Luanda, addressed at Dr. Julien / Luanda.

July 12-14 Luanda, Receipt from hotel Continental.

July 14 Newspaper clipping ‘Diario di Luanda’ “Um Grande antropologo halondes esta em Angola”. Arranges tickets mentioned below on this day. Letter from ‘Michaël van den Akker N.V. Kantoormachines en systemen’ on the broken down dictaphone machine and working towards a solution. 

July 15 Air freight form from Dictaphone Company Ltd on the loan of a portable recording machine because ”his machine has broken down and cannot be repaired locally”.

July 15 Ticket flight Luanda – Sa Bandeira. Letter to Elly Julien Roberts. Reports safe arrival in Sa’ da Bandeira, describes Luanda experience, mentions friendly cooperation of the Portuguese.

July 16 Newspaper clipping in Angolan paper with a photograph of an official function on which Julien appears. There are also prints of this photograph/function in the documentation.

July 18 Undated letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Luanda, dated by the stamp. Announces trip on Friday [07-20] per plane to Nova Lisboa, then in car to Serpa Pinto. Mentions being recognised by former student from his time at the Aloysius college in The Hague.

Julien 25-30 Letters to Elly Julien-Roberts from Alhanca Mission. Research going slowly, reports on the ‘rescue’ of a child. 

August 08 Ticket flight Sa Bandeira – Mocamedes 

August 08-10 Sa da Bandeira, Lubango, Hotel receipt, 2 nights. 

August 14 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from “Vila Arriaga in the Chela mountains”. Announces scheduled departure and arrival on August 21 at Schiphol.

August 15-16 Sa da Bandeira, Lubango, Hotel receipt 2 nights.

August 18 Letter to Elly Julien Roberts from Sa’ da Bandeira, mentions onward journey per plane to Pereira d’ Ega and 2 days visit to a Dutch missionary in Huíla, and the tribe of the ‘Wamhuila’ “who have enormous hairdos, dripping of grease, stiffened by beads, Bantu Negroes that are ‘interesting but few’. Reporting on meagre mission situation and outcomes.

August 19-20 Sa da Bandeira, Lubango, Hotel receipt 3 nights. Ticket flight Sabandera – Luanda

August 19 Luanda Hotel Continental receipt for 1 night

August 20 Flight ticket Luanda – Lisbon – Amsterdam

September 07 Returned from Angola with pneumonia. Letter from R.K. Lyceum (high school) for girls The Hague. Reply to a letter Julien sent August 12, with concerns about his health and return to teaching. 

References

References
1 last updated 2021-05-23
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1962_Angola & Nigeria itinerary

This itinerary is based on documents from Paul Julien’s personal collection, which are currently in the care of the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. Over time it will become more detailed and intricately networked. [1]last updated 2021-05-23

June 27 Letter from broadcaster of Julien’s radio talks KRO; it is not possible to provide the requested sound recording equipment due to high demand. 

July 02 Letter on sponsorship agreement between Julien and KLM, Julien gets a ticket with a value of ƒ1.052 and in return “He will favourably mention KLM and promote travelling by Electra II in his lectures”. Signed by Julien on July 4th, flight should be no later than July 12th. 

July 14 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Luanda. Since 2 days in Luanda. Reports on plans unfolding and contacts made. 

July 23 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Serpa Pinto. Announces onward journey to the south east by car, praises the help he gets from the colonial government. 

July 25 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Cuangar. All well, reporting on journey, absence (largely) on Catholicism and onward journey to Dirico. Looks out on “South-West Africa” (Namibia) from his window. 

July 28 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Dirico. All is well, research progressing, ‘bushmen‘ are “The kindest people of Africa”.

August 06 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Serpa Pinto. Reports return from Dirico Mission and onward journey to Cuito Canavale[?] and Baixo Longa

August 13 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Serpa Pinto (with note by Elly of arrival on the 14th). “had over 300 Bushmen, saw a lot, filmed a lot and feel excellent.” projected arrival in the Netherlands 27th or 28th of August. Again praise of the Portuguese, went lion hunting without seeing a lion. Experienced the “interesting initiation of the Ganguele tribe”. 

August 18 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Kano. Reports safe arrival and announces brief journey through Bauchi plateau before onward journey to the Netherlands on August 28.

References

References
1 last updated 2021-05-23
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1959_Cameroon itinerary

This itinerary is based on documents from Paul Julien’s personal collection, which are currently in the care of the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. Over time it will become more detailed and intricately networked. [1]last updated 2021-05-23

July 15th Air France ticket (issued June 11th), July 15th, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Paris (France), Fort Lamy (Chad).

August 25 Air France tickets Batouri (Cameroon) – Bangui (Central African Republic) – Fort Lamy – Paris – Amsterdam.

September 11 Announcements of Julien’s safe return in several Dutch newspapers.

References

References
1 last updated 2021-05-23
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1955_Ethiopia itinerary

This itinerary is based on documents from Paul Julien’s personal collection, which are currently in the care of the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. Over time it will become more detailed and intricately networked. [1]last updated 2021-05-23

July 19-27 Letters to Elly Julien-Roberts from Addis Ababa.

July 28 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Norwegian Lutheran Mission in Yirga Alem.

August 3-9 Letters to Elly Julien-Roberts from Gidole.

Julien received for this expedition a grant from the Dutch organisation for Scientific research of ƒ4.250,–. Confirmed in letter dated July 7th.

 

References

References
1 last updated 2021-05-23
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1950_Northern Nigeria itinerary

This itinerary is based on documents from Paul Julien’s personal collection, which are currently in the care of the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. Over time it will become more detailed and intricately networked. [1]last updated 2021-05-23

July 21 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Jos.

August 2 Letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Pankshin.

August 6-9 Letters to Elly Julien-Roberts from Jos.

August 10 ‘Holiday trip’ to Kwei, mentioned in letter to Elly Julien-Roberts from Jos.

August 12-13 Letters to Elly Julien-Roberts from Yola. Mentions expected arrival back in the Netherlands within 2 weeks of the letter’s delivery.

For this Journey Julien received a ƒ500,– grant from the Royal Dutch Society for Scientific Research (note dated October 22nd in reply to application by Julien July 1950).

References

References
1 last updated 2021-05-23
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1952_Congo Brazzaville itinerary

This itinerary is based on documents from Paul Julien’s personal collection, which are currently in the care of the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. Over time it will become more detailed and intricately networked. [1]last updated 2021-05-23

July 14 Two word telegram to Elly Julien-Roberts from Brazzaville: “All right”

September 16-19 Reports in various Dutch newspapers on Julien’s safe return to the Netherlands.

References

References
1 last updated 2021-05-23
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