What other families call the guest room was known as the “Africa Room” in Anne Schönharting’s family. Until just recently, it was lo cated in one half of a semidetached house in Diera near Meissen, where it had been moved after German unification. The “Africa Room” was where the collection of her greatgrandfather Willy Klare was kept for four generations. From 1907 to 1914 Klare worked for a Liver poolbased trader as a cacao plantation manager in what is now Equatorial Guinea. There, he collected many objects, including weapons, everyday items, taxidermy animals, and jewelry. In addition, the collection contains hundreds of photographs as well as letters and postcards from the period.
For four generations the family kept this collection, continually rear ranging it in their living space and adding their own travel souvenirs to it. During the GDR era, the room brought a sense of identity; it symbolized distance and broad expanses, the freedom to travel. Africa was considered a desirable destination; the colonial background and the provenance of the artifacts remained largely unconsidered.
After her parents’ deaths, the photographer was confronted with this legacy — and now, in her work, she places it in a different context. She exhibits the items in dream like scenes, surrounding them with light and warmth, allowing them to come to life, symbolically. With these photos, Schönharting undertakes an associative journey back into an unfamiliar past, deliberately starting a personal dialogue with her family’s past, with German and European history, and with the things colonialism is responsible for.