Forgotten stars of the Golden Age of Malian photography

Forgotten stars of the Golden Age of Malian photography

Written by Helen Jennings

Helen Jennings is the editor-in-chief of Nataal Media, an editorial platform celebrating African creativity.

The golden age of 20th century studio photography of Mali is usually only in the work of Seydou Keïta and Malick SidibéIn the art world, the sought-after black and white images are sought after. However, just before and after the independence from France in 1960 in the history of the West African country, this particular time led to many other photographers who equally deserve contemporary attention.
Login Black Shadow Projects. Celebrating African photography with an emphasis on the rich archive of Mali, the mobile exhibition platform was founded last year by Moroccan art adviser Myriem Baadi to provide visibility to unknown artists and to show the nuances of African photography.

“Nati Misseni (Beautiful Braid)” (1983) by Youssouf Sogodogo

As the founder Nataal MediaI have been following the progress of Black Shade Projects, an editorial platform that celebrates African creativity, since it started in London last fall with an exhibition of Youssouf Sogodogo’s works. This Malian photographer was born in 1955 and entered photography in the 1980s. Currently, he is the director of photography (CFP) for the promotion of influential Cadre in Bamako, the capital of Malya, and has opened a large, if not the last decade. Black Shade Projects presented the “Tresses du Mali” series, which reveals the complex hairstyles of the country’s women. The timeless quality and universal appeal of the work became the perfect starting point for Baadi’s platform.

“Black Shade Projects plans to present Malian photography beyond noteworthy names, not only by preserving the archives of these veterans, but also by encouraging a long conversation with the ambition to expand and diversify their art collections,” he said. during the launch. “It tells the versatile stories of Africa in a more original way.”

The second show of Black Shade Projects, “Eyes, They Never Lie”, recently ended at the AFRƎEculture African hall in Marrakech’s unofficial art week in late February. This time two photographers met.

Abdourahmane Sakaly, who came from Senegal and moved to Bamako in 1946, became one of the most famous photographers in the city in the 1960s. Adama Kouyaté grew up in Bougouni village in Mali, then grew up according to Bakary Doumbia in well-known photographer Bamako, and Mali and Bouôte opened studios in Ivory Coast. (He died 92 days before the exhibition day, which signed the first international show of these particular works.)

Black Shades Project

“Jeune fille amoureuse (Young Woman in Love)” (1969) by Adama Kouyaté

“His Eyes, Never Lies” focused on these artists’ portraits of empathetic women-caretakers shot during the period of hope, modernity, and both social and cultural change. Each image is an edited scene where young and old, family and friends look comfortable, attractive and confident. Sometimes mysterious, sometimes powerful, they reflect the agency and reflect elegance.

“A show about women,” Baadi said in Marrakesh. But more specifically about the look of these women – how they let us look at them and get back to us, ”he explained. “It is not about the body or what they look like. Their intentions are felt with their gaze. I was willing to represent these artists, who are important figures of this niche photography movement and to use their photos to convey a deeper, more layered narrative.” Who are these women? “

“These photos enlighten the elegance and creativity of African women in the post-colonial independence in the financial and African diaspora,” said Lisa Anderson, founder of the show’s curator of the Black British Art platform. email. “The women of these portraits chose to take them to celebrate their individual style expressions, often fusing traditional fashion with Western elements.

“These reinforced moments were used as escape and freedom methods,” he continued. “We can never know the conditions that led them to the studio, but thanks to this exhibition we were able to honor these photos as cultural treasures.”

Black Shade Projects also invited textile and performance artist Enam Gbewonyo, founder of the Black British Female Artist collective, and painter and performance artist Adelaide Damoah to respond to the archives of the artists they exhibited. This creative dialogue adds more relevance and meaning to new audiences.

“Portrait de femme à la belle coiffure (Portrait of a Woman with a Beautiful Hair Style)” (1963) by Abdourahmane Sakaly Credit: Courtesy of Abdourahmane Sakaly / Black Shades Project

While preparing for future exhibitions, Baadi hopes that the pioneers he promotes will promote new photography across the continent and beyond.

“Its extensive catalogs and artistic innovations have paved the way for more diverse cultural practices that will continue to resonate and inspire future generations,” he said.

Top view: “In est esteration (Together)” (1967) by Adama Kouyaté

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