Embodying Relation: Art Photography in Mali
In Embodying Relation Allison Moore examines the tensions between the local and the global in the art photography movement in Bamako, Mali, which blossomed in the 1990s after Malian photographers Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé became internationally famous and the Bamako Photography Biennale was founded. Moore traces the trajectory of Malian photography from the 1880s when photography first arrived as an apparatus of French colonialism to the first African studio practitioners of the 1930s and the establishment in 1994 of the Bamako Biennale, Africa's most important continent-wide photographic exhibition. In her detailed discussion of Bamakois artistic aesthetics and institutions, Moore examines the post-fame careers of Keïta and Sidibé, the biennale's structure, the rise of women photographers, cultural preservation through photography, and how Mali's shift to democracy in the early 1990s enabled Bamako's art scene to flourish. Moore shows how Malian photographers' focus on cultural exchange, affective connections with different publics, and merging of traditional cultural precepts with modern notions of art embody Caribbean philosopher and poet Édouard Glissant's notion of “relation” in ways that spark new artistic forms, practices, and communities.