1936 - 2016
Nuit de Noël (Happy Club), 1963
© Malick Sidibé
Courtesy MAGNIN-A Gallery, Paris
SITE 8: Drostdy Street
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Malick Sidibé, was a Malian photographer who created mainly black-and-white images that revealed the gradual Westernization of Mali as it made the transition from colony to an independent country.
Sidibé’s first home was a Peul (Fulani) village. After finishing school in 1952, he trained as a jewellery maker and then studied painting at the École des Artisans Soudanais (now the Institut National des Arts) in Bamako, graduating in 1955. That year he was apprenticed to French photographer Gérard Guillat, and in 1957 he began to document the everyday life of Bamako. In particular, Sidibé chronicled the carefree youth culture at dance clubs and parties, at sporting events, and on the banks of (or in) the Niger River. His remarkably intimate shots show exuberant young Africans, intoxicated with Western styles of music and fashion.
Although he continued his street work and close association with young Malians for another 20 years, in 1958 Sidibé opened his own commercial studio and camera repair shop. There he took thousands of portraits, of both individuals and groups, creating dramatic images of subjects eager to assert their postcolonial middle-class identity, often with exaggerated idealised versions of themselves. After 1978 he worked exclusively in his studio.
Sidibé’s work was unknown outside his own country until the early 1990s, when European art critic André Magnin, who was in Bamako to visit another Malian photographer, Seydou Keïta, was taken to Sidibé’s studio by mistake. Magnin began to publicise the photographs of Sidibé, and he published a monograph on the photographer in 1998. There followed an impressive number of group and solo exhibitions in Europe, the United States, and Japan. His work received international acclaim with solo exhibitions dedicated to his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Musée Pincé in Angers among others. In 2003 Sidibé received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, and was also the recipient of the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2007 Venice Biennale, one of the art world’s highest honours. He died in 2016 at the age of 80.
THEME & CURATORIAL STATEMENT
Freedom, I dream up for myself and others.
Inkululeko, ndiphuphela mna nabanye.
Vryheid, ek droom vir myself en ander.
Freedom, I dream up for myself and others, is an exploration of a visual language that bridges gaps between cultures, creates understanding, and inspires empathy and connection. This photographic presentation transcends language barriers and allows people to convey ideas and concepts using imagery and visual cues.
The works selected in this exhibition are intended to be more mindful of the subtleties of our dreams and how we view the world. The works are intended to resonate with us all, and with the medium of photography it does so in its purest form, it does not distort.
Photography is a tool that never warps or ages. This medium teaches us to look, to look again, and to do so harder. This visual universal language has the ability to change perception, encourage understanding, and create a sense of urgency when needed. It has been the reason to incite human action and at other times to inspire human connection.
This exhibition explores the Masters of Photography who draw inspiration from the African continent. It encourages the audience to foster meaningful dialogue in investigating the archive. The artists have pushed boundaries within the medium of photography and created works that have stood the test of time. Archives are not just windows into the past, they are the authentic creations of individual people who lived before us and still live among us. They are the archaeology that was never buried.