The Eye of Bamako

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Caption: Nuit de Noël (Happy Club), 1963.Malick Sidibé. Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris.

Vibrations, energy and propulsion of vivid colors in the black-and-white photographs by Malick Sidibé at Somerset house. Right after entering the room from the outside of a cold and opalescent Sunday winter afternoon, an immediate warm feeling pervades the spectator, it’s Africa! An exotic mix of sounds pervades the rooms: Malian young couples, children and friends dance animatedly through the images to the rhythm of pop, soul and rock’n’roll.

The powerful pictures not only recreate the lively spirit and soul of the nightclubs in town as well as the relaxing moments close to the river, but they also document social and cultural dynamics through an elegant form of ethnographic and photographic work. The visual chronicle of life and emotions of these African people from Bamako is reported by the photographer Malick Sibidé, in the wake of the country’s independence in 1960.

The artist, known for his ability of immersing in the action while remaining an alsmost invisible presence,  introduces into his photographs a debate about authenticity, reproduction and authority of the image, raising the attention about issues central for Mali and for the newly emerging country. The captivated and enchanted public cannot avoid to get involved, called unconsciously to discern these illustrative and brightly alive images.

 

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