STEVENSON is pleased to present Guy Tillim's Museum of the Revolution. The photographs in this project, which has won him the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award for 2017, were made on long walks through the streets of the African cities of Johannesburg, Durban, Maputo, Beira, Harare, Nairobi, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Luanda, Libreville, Accra, Abidjan, Dakar and Dar es Salaam between 2014 and 2018.
The series takes its title from the Museum of the Revolution on the Avenida 24 Julho, in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. The avenue was named soon after the establishment of Lourenço Marques as the Portuguese colonial capital. The 24th of July 1875 marked the end of a Luso-British conflict for possession of the territory that was decided in favour of Portugal.
One hundred years later the name of the avenue remained the same, but its meaning changed. Mozambique’s independence from Portugal was proclaimed in June 1975; the capital was renamed Maputo, and now the 24th of July is Nationalisation Day, celebrating the transfer of ownership of all Portuguese property and buildings to the state. A 15-year civil war followed, ending in 1992. The People’s Republic of Mozambique became the Republic of Mozambique and a new era began.
In the Museum of the Revolution there is a panoramic painting produced by North Korean artists depicting the liberation of the capital from Portuguese colonial rule. It illustrates the rhetoric of a revolution as the leader and followers parade through the streets and avenues, laid out with grandeur by the colonial powers. These streets, named and renamed, function as silent witnesses to the ebb and flow of political, economic and social shifts of power and have become a museum of the two major revolutions that have taken place in African countries over the past 65 years: from colonial to postcolonial regimes that in many cases embraced socialist policies, and then from African Nationalist to global capitalist states.