Exhibition: The Tuareg and a History of the Sahara

2nd – 20th June 2015, Royal Geographical Society

As the Tuareg of Mali and Niger combat global politics and economics to hold on to their way of life, a moving photography exhibition and series of events at The Royal Geographical Society from 02-20 June 2015 will focus on this proud nomadic culture – that modernised and withstood the challenges of the 20th Century, but is now in peril.

Photograph: Bernus/Bernus Estate

Tuareg society and culture is little known in the UK and the exhibition & events, the first of their kind in the UK, will give the public an opportunity to learn about Tuareg history and culture at this time of difficulty for their people. Often referred to as the “Blue Men of the Desert”, the Tuareg have lived in extreme desert conditions deep in the Sahara for over a thousand years.

Through photography, poetry, historical documents and letters, drawings and maps, debate and music the exhibition and additional events will recount Tuareg history in Algeria, Libya, Niger and Mali from the 19th Century to the present day, giving the public a fascinating opportunity to discover and learn more about these extraordinary people – from when the Tuareg ruled the Sahara to how they see themselves today.

Their language and distinctive dress – with the men heavily veiled and the women not – unite them and guides their behaviour. Their rich poems and ballads relate a colourful but poignant history and ideology. Poetry, which is the Tuareg¹s most cherished art form, is also at the core of their contemporary pop music and now gives the Tuareg a world stage. The 2012 Grammy award-winning Tinariwen (who will play at WOMAD in July 2015) are the most well-known; Toumast who will perform at the event, are releasing a new album in April.

Robin Hanbury-Tenison, co-founder Survival International, “the doyen of British explorers” (Spectator) said “This event will thoroughly illuminate and explain the Tuareg’s intriguing, vibrant culture – contradictory but sincere, powerful and resilient. A timely, important show, and to my knowledge the first major exhibition on the Tuareg in the UK.”

The exhibition will curated by the photographer Henrietta Butler and will include her photographs and those of renowned Saharan photographers, and paintings by Tuareg artists.

A book The Tuareg and a history of the Sahara, by Henrietta Butler will be published by Gilgamesh Publishing mid-May.

The Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR

Exhibition: The Tuareg and *A History of the Sahara
In the Pavilion – Entrance is FREE

The Tuareg, the famed desert nomads – past and contemporary culture and history at a time of crisis. From the travels of remarkable British, French & German explorers to colonisation and Tuareg adaption – against the odds – to the 21st century. Rare historic documents, stunning photography from the 60s to the present, beautiful artefacts, and Tuareg artists and musicians will illuminate the Tuareg’s Sahara.

With the work of Ghoubëid Alojaly, Edmond Bernus, Suzanne Bernus, Henrietta Butler, Henri Delord, Jean-Marc Durou, Rissa Ixa, Moussa ag Keyna, Karl-G. Prasse and Almoustapha Tambo.


Tuesday 2nd June – Saturday 20th June 2015
10am – 9pm weekdays. Except: Closed Friday 5th June 12pm – Sunday 7th June

Saturday 13th June 2015: 10am – 7pm
Sunday 14th June 2015: 10am – 5pm
Saturday 20th June: 10am – 5pm

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