Celebrity photographer Albert Watson shoots pictures of cotton farmers in Benin

A. Watson

They’ve all been in front of his camera: Kate Moss, Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson and Alfred Hitchcock. But instead of models or actors, the stars to most recently grace the other side of his lens were cotton farmers in Africa. Scottish photographer Albert Watson travelled to Benin for the “Cotton made in Africa” initiative and the images born out of his journey are currently on display in Hamburg’s Deichtorhallen exhibition centre. The heart of the collection entitled “Vision feat. Cotton made in Africa” are 36 large-format photographs which were all taken in Benin in December 2011. They show small farmers and the worlds in which they live. 350 of Watson’s well-known earlier works are also being shown, bringing together fashion, lifestyle, landscape and portraits with the lives of African farmers.

A. Watson

The exhibition was opened by Hamburg-based businessman Dr Michael Otto, who also launched the Aid Trade Foundation with the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative in 2005. Under the motto “helping people help themselves through trade”, CmiA represents an innovative approach to development collaboration. It revolves around training for small farmers that is meant to help improve the quality of the cotton they produce while increasing crop yields so they can generate more income. CmiA has also established an alliance of international textile businesses that buy sustainably farmed cotton from small farmers at market prices. Last year saw 15 million such textiles enter circulation. In 2011/2012, roughly 420,000 small African farmers took part in the programme.

A. Watson

Those interested in seeing the exhibition for themselves can do so until 6 January 2013. For more information, go to www.deichtorhallen.de.

Jana Kern

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