Bamako Encounters, Chapter 4 – Dwelling made of fallen angel feathers
The Bamako Encounters – African Photography Biennale deliver a high-flying 2022 edition, centered on “on multiplicity, difference, becoming and heritage”. Our correspondent Arthur Dayras recounts the fourth exhibition organized at Memorial Modibo Keita.
Lovers of the verb of Aimé Césaire will have recognized the lines taken from Aimé Césaire and his poem Undo and redo the sun. They are placed at the forefront of each exhibition. Césaire comes to indicate the orientation, the rhythm, the course of the poetry of each exhibition. “When we arrive at this place in the poem, each is already traversed by the contentions of history and the ambiguities of existence”.
This fourth part is housed in the Modibo Keita Memorial, a figure in the independence of Mali obtained in 1960, the first president of the Malian Republic and champion of Pan-Africanism. The exhibition held at the memorial finds a resonance with memory in certain artistic gestures presented and in the continuity of Césaire’s verb. Césaire’s sentence quoted at the start of the exhibition evokes the fall of a celestial being. Tandazani Dhlakama returns in the Biennale catalog to this deeply metaphorical poem, as is the work of Césaire.
“I imagine that for divine beings to lose their ‘feathers’, there must have been a hell of a fight in the sky. Our invisible angels must have charged with vigor, fighting on our behalf in unknown metaphysical spaces. Whether they emerge victorious or defeated, the trace to which Césaire refers us is a fallen feather. Knowing that it fell from the sky, and wasn’t intentionally placed means it probably swirled down to earth. Although his world was unstable, Césaire must have enjoyed a few moments to stop, watch and reflect as the angel feather fell”.
The 13e edition of the Bamako Encounters is particularly distinguished for its ability to link its exhibitions to several thoughts. The levels of reading are multiple. We can see artist after artist, individual and autonomous artistic gestures. We can find there a thought that unites them, opposes them, juxtaposes them, contradicts them around the strong axes of the biennale: multiple identities, heritage, the fragmentary. And we can see in it, even deeper, a form of poetic dialogue that often goes beyond the framework of photography and video.
We find something of the twirling poetry of Césaire in the work of Luvuyo Equiano Nyamose. The South African artist captures the joy and sparkle of Durban’s waterfront bathers. The beaches of this coastline were once popular with white South African populations before a black social life (ebishi) takes possession of formerly segregated places, at least socially marked. We find there all the simplicity of summer moments by the sea, its indolent crowds and the splashing of children barbbling in the sea. Here, to paraphrase our poet badly, the house would be taken over by the feathers of the fallen angels.
Another aquatic game with the dreamlike staging of David Uzochukwu. Pond Monstrum/Drown in my magic recounts with a subtle imagination, specific to evocations, the myth of the Mediterranean and its contemporary crossings, sadly tragic. Without falling into a realistic pathos or pouring into the documentary style, David Uzochukwu rather seizes on the imagination of mermaids to confront the monster of the sea. The subject turns out to be both subtle and whimsical, and if we can say extremely well thought out.
Finally, a word must be said about the collective Association of Women Photographers of Mali (AFPM), composed of artists Diabate, Tima Diallo, Oumou Diarra, Anna Landouré, Ramata Maiga, Mariam Niare, Abi Gail Sagarra, Nana Sangare, Awa Sidibé, Aminata Sissoko , Kane Sissoko and Oumou Traore. They have converted a minibus from the SOTRAMA network into a photographic studio. These buses carrying fifteen people are recognizable among all for their unique colorful decoration for each driver and their multitude, quick to cover a fairly extensive network in Bamako. They became Verbatim the symbol of this city, and in a spirit of reversal, the AFPM collective has transformed the interior of one of these minibuses to immortalize its inhabitants, their worn-out everyday faces, their hopes and their inner thoughts. As Fatoumata Diabaté says, “these looks say Mali much more strongly than a long speech. They are the faces of an era compressed between hope and discouragement”.
We want to give thanks to the author of this short article for this outstanding material
Bamako Encounters 2022, Chapter 4: Seydou Keita Memorial – The Eye of Photography Magazine
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