Anthropological Sensitivity

Having cut his teeth as a fashion photographer in Paris, London and New York, Claude Iverné worked with some of the best known names in his field including Pierre Cardin, Lord Snowdon and David Bailey. However, in 1999 he set off on a trip along the Darb al Arba’in (Forty Days Trail) – an ancient caravan route connecting Egypt and the Sultanate of Darfar. During this journey he discovered and fell in love with Sudan, and the country and its people have been central to much of his practice ever since. Iverné’s first body of work on the country approached his subjects with an eye that is equally anthropological and creative and, in 2015, he continued the project with the support of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, which is given biennially by the foundation that carries that pioneering French photographer’s name.

Bilad es Sudan, showing at Aperture Foundation New York following an initial run in Paris, represents the fruits of this second excursion and one “draft” of constantly growing oeuvre focused on a single, if expansive, subject. Whereas Iverne’s first foray was concentrated mainly in North Sudan, which he depicted in black and white, this second outing looks in greater detail at the South, and does so in colour.

With South Sudan only having become independent in 2011, these new photographs reflect a place in the midst of rapid transformation. Given the unstable political climate, they also necessarily turn to the Sudanese citizens who have been affected by these immense changes. Adding new perspectives to his work, Iverné followed as many of them fled to France for refuge, and the exhibition explores their journeys from the nomadic tents and deserts of their home country to the outskirts of French cities where they came to seek shelter.

A book, Claude Iverné – Bilad es Sudan, accompanies the show and, in addition to the work the photographer has been doing in this area for now nearly 20 years, provides further ways of reading and seeing a rich and complex history. Together, the images and the exhibition contribute to Iverné’s impassioned investigation of the economic, cultural and environmental life of a fascinanting country in a state of change.

Ned Carter Miles

Claude Iverné: Bilad es Sudan opens 15 September at Aperture Foundation, New York. For more information:

1. Claude Iverné, Construction site, Hai Jalaba District, Juba, 2015.