Archives of the Planet | How to change the world

Archives of the Planet | How to change the world

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 Ahmedabad

We recently did an Instagram post on Albert Kahn's archives and loved it so much, we wanted to give it a second life. The photo we posted is shown above. We originally found the photo while searching for images of Ahmedabad; where two of our textile factories are located. The photo is of a priest in officiating attire. He is standing inside the Jain Temple of Hathi Singh in Ahmedabad (1913). The photo was taken by Stéphane Passet and reproduced by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.

Albert Kahn | The Ordinary Banker

Albert Kahn

Albert was French and a banker. He was independently wealthy and a fairly good businessman but besides that, there is nothing very special about Albert. Except for one project he started in 1909 called "Les Archives de la Planètewhich intuitively translates to "The Archives of the Planet". 

The Archives | How To Change The World

Archives of the Planet

(Bombay, India | Stéphane Passet, 1913)


In order to change the world, I needed to observe it.- Albert Kahn

In 1910, Albert Khan set out to capture the world. He teamed up with the Lumière brothers who supplied state of the art equipment, including color photography and cinema. Together, they placed dozens of photographers on every continent to build, what they called, “a giant mapping” of the world.

The goal was not to study the people or create a piece of art. Instead, the goal was to record humans in all their diversity. Imagining that knowledge of the "other" would lead to a desire for peace and brotherhood among all. Almost seems too relevant today. 

Albert once said, the purpose of the archives was to account for "the aspects and the practices of human activity, which will inevitably disappear over time". 

The Photos We Love

The Great Depression put an end to Kahn's project but the archives will last beyond our generation. We are moved by so many of the photos and we wanted to share our favorites below. You can find the entire project here and see them for yourself. The project spanned 22 years and finished with 72,000 color photographs and 183,000 meters of film. Albert died in 1940 during the Nazi occupation of France. He was 80.


Archives of the Planet

(Port-Saïd, Egypt | Paul Castelnau, 1918)

Archives of the Planet

(Lama Officiating Yonghegong Palace Beijing, Chine | Stéphane Passet, 1913)


Archives of the World

(Goldsmith in Kabul, Afghanistan | Frédéric Gadmer, 1928)


Archives of the World

(WWI Reims, France | Fernand Cuville, 1917)


Archives of the World

(Issoire, France | Stéphane Passet 1917)


Archives of the World

(Sudanese Village Jeddah, Arabia | Paul Castelnau 1918)


Archives of the World

(Kurkish women Mar-Yakoub, Iraq | Frédéric Gadmer, 1927)


Archives of the World

(Limoges, France | Unspecified, 1913)


Archives of the World

(Women of Ouled Naïl tribe Bou Saada, Algeria | Jules Gervais-Courtellemont, 1909


Archives of the World

(Santa Maria Val Müstair, Switzerland | Frédéric Gadmer, 1921)


Archives of the World

(Moreuil, France | Stéphane Passet, 1916)


Archives of the World

(Beijing, China | Stéphane Passet, 1912)


Archives of the World

(Sarajevo, Bosnia | Auguste Léon, 1912)


Archives of the World

(Cheif Zodéougan surrounded by his court Benin, Africa |  Frédéric Gadmer, 1930)


Archives of the World

(Toulouse, France | Georges Chevalier, 1916)


Archives of the World

(Amber, India | Stéphane Passet, 1913)


Archives of the World

(Soissons, France | Fernand Cuville, 1917)


Archives of the World

(Mongol hunter Ourga, Mongolia | Stéphane Passet, 1913)


Archives of the World

(Dancers and musicians of the Ouled Naïl tribe Bou Saada, Algeria | Jules Gervais-Courtellemont 1909)


Archives of the World

(Picking tabacco Reth, Albania | Auguste Léon, 1913)


Archives of the World

(Fruit market Damascus, Syria | Frédéric Gadmer, 1921)

 

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