Somerset House in collaboration with MAGNIN-A Gallery, Paris, is proud to present the first UK major solo exhibition of Malick Sidibé, the ‘Eye of Bamako’ who gave the world a vivid glimpse into African youth culture.
Sidibé is reknowned for his striking, instantly recognizable black-and-white images chronicling the lives and culture of the Malian capital, Bamako, in the wake of the country’s independence. Sidibé was the first photographer, and first African artist, to receive a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Other significant awards include The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2003, as well as the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography in 2008 and winning the Arts and Entertainments category at the World Press Photo competition in 2010.
Curated by André Magnin and Philippe Boutté, the exhibition will showcase 45 original prints from the 60s and 70s around three defined themes: ‘Au Fleuve Niger / Beside the Niger River’, ‘Tiep à Bamako / Nightlife in Bamako’, and ‘Le Studio / The Studio’.
With the arrival of rock‘n’roll, cutting-edge fashions, and independence in 1960, his images capture the essence of exuberance – the energy and sheer love of being alive – of young, newly independent Africans, as they lived through an era of significant social and cultural change.
Sidibé once said, “music freed us”. Accompanying the photographs, the gallery soundtrack will recreate the spirit and soul of both the nightclubs where he shot and his own Studio Malick, where “often it was like a party”. Curated by DJ, presenter and African music expert Rita Ray, it will feature an eclectic mix of music and urban sounds to which Sidibé’s photographic subjects quite likely listened to, from the familiar rock‘n’roll, pop songs and fusions of the continent in the 60s and 70s to timeless Malian roots music. If you want to get a taste ahead of your visit, Somerset House has a playlist for you to explore on their website.
In addition, the exhibition space will tip its chapeau to the look and feel of Studio Malick, featuring a distinctive and rather desirable black-and-white patterned vinyl flooring.
Inspired by this exhibition, Somerset House is running a pop-up shop in the Courtyard Rooms from 4 November, with a collection of one-off, unusual and hard-to-find wares, sourced in or influenced by Mali and Africa. Compiled by Somerset House and Darkroom, it will include vintage vinyl, contemporary and vintage decorative jewellery, printed and woven bags, scarves and cushions, plus posters, books and stationery.
Malick Sidibé | The Eye of Modern Mali
Till 15th January 2017
London WC2R 1LA
Words by Anna Bang
TagsMalick Sidibé, Rita Ray, Somerset House,