African Biennale of Photography in Mali defends culture despite difficulties

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Regardless of a security disaster in the West Africa and Sahel areas, Covid-19, and diplomatic tensions with France, organisers of the African Biennale of Photography have managed to set on the Pan-African exhibition in Bamako, Mali in the spirit of resilience and resistance.

“Despite the tough context, marked by several crises in Mali and all above the earth, the Transitional Government wishes to manage this key cultural occasion,” claimed Mali’s Society Minister Andogoly Guindo.

Titled partly in Bambara, the African Biennale of Photography has an bold slogan: “Maa ka Maaya ka ca a yere kono—On Multiplicity, Distinction, Starting to be, and Heritage”, the festival organisers invited artists from all over Africa to lead their interpretation of several phases of changeover.

Some 75 artists from the African continent and diaspora were invited to contribute to the 13th edition.

Photographie de Monica de Miranda, exposée aux Rencontres de Bamako 2022.
Photographie de Monica de Miranda, exposée aux Rencontres de Bamako 2022. © Monica de Miranda

 

This concept coincides with the Bamako Encounters African Biennale of Pictures spirit of resilience and resistance.

“We cannot ignore the issues in which we are, even in wanting to keep this Biennale, for the reason that it is crucial for us, for Africa,” mentioned Cheikh Diallo, general delegate of the African Biennale of Photography.

“This Biennale should really also build a hyperlink, a social website link, an economic link and a political website link,” he added.

Photographie de Jess Atieno, exposée aux Rencontres de Bamako 2022.
Photographie de Jess Atieno, exposée aux Rencontres de Bamako 2022. © Jess Atieno

Diplomatic relations in between Paris and Bamako are tense — RFI broadcasts and French NGOs have been banned by Mali’s transitional govt.

Even so, the vital partnership in between the Biennale de la picture and the French Institute, a cultural centre has been maintained.

“We continue being in contract with France,” explained Cheikh Diallo.

“We are supported and we thank this loyalty in the carry out of this partnership. We are fighting for tradition and I believe that is the very best plan,” he extra.

The exhibition also references Aimé Césaire’s seminal poem “Unmaking and Remaking the Sun”.

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons : “When I am Not Here/Estoy Alla, Triptico” (1996). Triptych Polaroid Polacolor Pro 20x24 in photographs. Exposée aux Rencontres de Bamako 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons : “When I am Not Below/Estoy Alla, Triptico” (1996). Triptych Polaroid Polacolor Professional 20×24 in photos. Exposée aux Rencontres de Bamako 2022. Image courtesy of the artist. © Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

 

In addition to the African and diaspora artists invited to take part, the Biennale is holding a retrospective of is effective by Daoud Aoulad Syad (Morocco), Maria Magdalena Campos Pons (Cuba/ United states), Samuel Fosso (Cameroon), Joy Gregory (Jamaica/ Uk), and Jo Ractliffe (South Africa).

The formal exhibition is hosted at numerous community structures around the capital, including the National Museum of Mali, African Residence of Photography, Bamako Railway Station, and French Institute of Mali.

The 13th edition of Bamako Encounters opened before in December in the Malian capital and is exhibiting right until 8 February, 2023.