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Alexine Tinne (1835 – 1869) was a 19th century Dutch explorer who gained worldwide recognition for her expeditions in Africa. Her pioneering photographic style and technique have recently been reevaluated through my research in collaboration with The Hague Historical Museum. The research into her life and work further cemented her legacy in the field. Tinne's contribution to exploration and photography was significant. Moreover, her later years were marked by her egalitarian worldview, with which she proved to be ahead of her time. During her stay in North Africa, she formed close bonds with her Dutch, Mediterranean, and African companions, whom she considered as her ‘new family’. Tinne's photographic approach allowed her to document her ‘family’ without the colonial white gaze of the time, which was remarkable considering her family's wealth which was derived from South American plantations that relied on enslaved labour.

The Hague Historical Museum, in partnership with myself as the exhibition’s initiator, and later joined by Leiden University, unveiled the first comprehensive exhibition of Alexine Tinne's 19th century photographic oeuvre. This exhibition featured Tinne's photographs alongside my work, having lived and traveled in several African countries as a filmmaker and photographer, and feeling a sense of kinship. 

For this exhibition, I researched all the Tinne archives for over four years. In my series ‘Closer to Tinne’ I strived to create a contemporary representation of Alexine. For this purpose, I photographed in Alexine's former residence in The Hague and used personal objects from Alexine's, kept in museum and family archives. Additionally, my series Diaspora’ highlights portraits which were produced in collaboration with African diasporians from Belgium and the Netherlands. This created a unique connection between the work of the two photographers, and a similarity emerged in how the subjects were approached.

My research also explored new connections with renowned personalities from the history of photography, including the famous British photographer Francis Frith (1822-1898). It is believed that Tinne crossed paths with him in Egypt. Additionally, she may have been captured in two photographs that Frith took of temples in Egypt. After returning to The Hague, Tinne experimented with photography alongside the English photographer Robert J. Bingham and others. The exhibition features newly discovered material from their photographic experiments which were discovered by me and Jeroen de Wijs in Paris. Our photo historical research also resulted in the potential discovery in the archives of Serge Kakou of never before seen photographic materials by Tinne, made in Sudan, Africa, in 1862. My (photo) historical research continues while I am working on a final photo historical book on Tinne, to be published in 2025.

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