Photo Cameroon plunged visitors into superimposed, disparate worlds: the studios of twentieth century Cameroonian photographers and a museum installation where COVID-19 dictated the design. Even the photographers on view—Jacques Toussele (1939-2017), Joseph Chila (b. 1948), and Samuel Finlak (b. 1958)—communicated three different atmospheres and styles.

Toussele, the eldest and best-known in the West, expressed an urban, adventurous style. A buzz of activity surrounded his studio, Photo Jacques, which operated in the town of Mbouda from 1959 to 2006. The museum images often suggested this playful hustle-and-bustle. In one emblematic image, two young men wear bell-bottom trousers, sport-shirts, and athletic shoes. Each, prominently displaying a bottle of Sprite, turns away from the other. One looks up, the other down. Behind them, three layers of Toussele's popular backgrounds are stacked helter-skelter, signaling a wacky lark of a photo session (Fig. 1).

Toussele's nephew and apprentice, Joseph Chila, established his more...

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