Gala Ball in Bamako (1962) by Malick Sidibé from the new book Malick Sidibé: The Portrait of Mali (Skira)

“Sidibé’s photographs cover the period of the early1960s through the 1980s, making these volumes a discourse on the continuity of people, photography, and portraiture created in Mali from colonialism to revolution to dictatorship. Democracy was finally established, but that was after these photographs were taken, so what we are looking at is people living in the shadows and aftermath of French occupation.

…a paperback book that offers us a look both inside and outside the photographer’s studio. Sidibé’s work is taken after colonial occupation ended and we see the people of Bamako creating themselves as in a new world. It is a space where traditions of the past meet the opportunities of the present, where one can create themselves in the space between. Sidibé’s portraits have an emotional intensity that can only be ascribed to the space in between the photographer and the subject, that one moment in time where eyes connected and energy was shared, and the spirit of life is forever caught on silver gelatin paper.

In going outside the studio, Malick Sidibé: The Portrait of Mali shows us a larger world, an environment and a context into which these people appear. We see Mali through the eyes of one of its citizens, and the Mali he knows is not the Mali that is reported to the world. This is a place of power and beauty and style, and though it may be among the poorest nations in the world, you cannot put a price on pride.”

Text via LaJournal


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