Visual cultures and the photographic archive in Indian Ocean Africa: reflections from Capital Art Studio, Zanzibar
(University of the Witwatersrand)
Paper short abstract:
This paper will present the rationale for the project and provide an overview of the visual archive under analysis, that of the photographs of R.T Oza and his son R.R. Oza at the Capital Art Studio, in Stone Town, Zanzibar.
Paper long abstract:
This paper will present the rationale for the project and provide an overview of the archive under analysis. Capital Art Studio, in Stone Town, Zanzibar, was opened in 1930 by Ranchhod Oza, who arrived in Zanzibar from Gujarat in 1925 and undertook his apprenticeship at the established (Goan) studio of Gomes & Sons. He was joined in his practice by his son, Rohit, who took over the studio following his father's death in 1983, and is its current proprietor. Our exploratory engagement with the visual archive that the Ozas have compiled over 82 years seeks to catalogue and begin theorizing its contents, drawing on a growing body of work on African studio photography as articulation of modernity and/or cosmopolitanism (Behrend, Vokes, Sprague). A cursory reading suggests that it comprises, on the one hand, a public record that frames the shifting urban landscape, technologies of connection with the wider Indian Ocean world and visiting personages and, on the other, a series of private archives of everyday life in Unguja wherein individuals engaged in acts of self-fashioning within the studio.
Africa in the Indian Ocean