Portraiture and the Archive: Archives of the Planet – Albert Kahn

French Banker Albert Kahn has set a project called “les Archives de la planète” or “The Archives of the Planet” in 1909.  He has sent photographers to more than 50 countries around the world to document every culture of the visited country.  His photographers produced over 70,000 photos.  The purpose of the project was to illustrate the common humanity people share and strengthen the connecting cultures between those countries.  It served to document the rich cultural diversity of the world.

Outside Paris in a garden on his estate, Kahn gave his visitors the chance to appreciate other cultures and find harmony and connection between them.  The garden combined horticulture of elements of France, Britain and Japan.

The team of photographers traveled to countries including Algeria, Vietnam, Sudan and more.  The photographers (Auguste Léon, Stéphane Passet, Marguerite Mespoulet and more) captured photographs of the people faces, clothes, habits and way of living.

Nobody is different, we are all the same despite of those who wish to divide us is the main message that the project tries to address.  Below is some of the photographs taken by Kahn photographers.  More gallery can be seen by clicking on the url references.


Benin: Photographer Frédéric Gadmer shot Chief Justin Aho surrounded by his wives in Oumgegame.



Jordan: Photographer Paul Castelnau met a Bedouin of Sudanese origin in 1918 in Aba el Lissan, the site of an Arab Revolt battle the year before.



France: Photographer Gadmer documented life on the streets of Paris (World War I).

Images Source:  AFAR


Bibliography / References:

Mimi Zeiger. A Trip Through Time [online]. AFAR. Available from: http://www.afar.com/magazine/a-trip-through-time [Accessed 14 August, 2016].

John Schellhase.  Alber Kahn and his Astounding “Archives of the Planet” [online]. All That is Interesting.  Available from: http://all-that-is-interesting.com/albert-kahn [Accessed 14 August, 2016].


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