Helga Kohl -Namibia

Musée National du Mali

Elisabeth Bay (1997)

Helga Kohl’s photography often explores abandoned diamond mining sites. While the photographer accentuates the poetic dimensions that can envelop such spaces that are so marked by the absence of people, her images also evoke the predatory aspect of this type of human enterprise. In her series Elisabeth Bay, Helga Kohl examines the current state of the mining site that gave the series its name. This former diamond mine located in south-western Namibia is now abandoned, appearing as if it has been forever empty of life. However, in 1908, the first gems were mined there and a year later a railway was built to link Elisabeth Bay to the town of Kolmanskop, another mining site located a few kilometers away. The settlement at Elisabeth Bay was inhabited by about 1200 laborers and 200 artisans and officials between 1926 and 1935. Mining ceased at this site in 1948.

Today only traces of previous activity remain. What we see in this mining town are the architectural elements from the past as a mark of the former presence of people. The walls have been eroded by the wind, sand and fog of the Namibian desert. The ruins of the gutted buildings resonate as empty perspectives. They affirm that the effects of time and nature gradually reassert their ines- capable laws on the work of humans.

Born in 1943 in Silesia, Poland –
Lives in Namibia

Institut Français
Ministère de la Culture de l’Artisanat et du Tourisme du Mali