Between 1926 and the mid-1960s Paul Julien (1901-2001) made quite a large number of trips to Africa. Despite studying chemistry his passion was anthropology. Julien, in conventional daily life a chemistry instructor, measured people, took blood samples, wrote up his travels, photographed and filmed. He was a tourist, explorer and researcher, all rolled up in one. He lectured about his adventures, including on the radio for the Dutch broadcaster KRO, and published four books with accounts of his trips. In The Netherlands alone they ran through multiple editions, selling hundreds of thousands of copies.
This little publication and the contribution to Noorderlicht Photofestival 2013 it accompanied, is the first output of a long term engagement with Paul Julien’s photographic legacy, that is part of the collection of the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. I travel to places Julien worked in or traveled through over half a century ago, work with people who have an interest in the material based on local knowledge and experience. Together with them I trace stories, find forms to tell them and find out what the value of Julien’s legacy might be if not just based on his experiences and the way he communicated about them.