Bamako – Dakar: West African photography today

Stadthaus Ulm, Ulm, Germany
19 Sep 2014 - 23 Nov 2014

Bamako – Dakar: West African photography today

Elise Fitte-Duval 'La lutte traditionell' 2009, courtesy: Stadthaus Ulm

The Stadthaus has already presented two exhibitions with South African photography. This time it’s West Africa’s turn. With the exhibition ‘Bamako – Dakar: West African photography today’ the Stadthaus Ulm presents art photography positions from Senegal and Mali and let the photographers speak for themselves in extensive interviews in which they also comment on their work and reflect on their positions between the western art market and their own traditions in an increasingly globalised environment.

Ever since the 1990ies, the western art world developed an increasing interest in photographers from South Africa and also from the West African countries Senegal and Mali. Dakar and Bamako in particular are home to a thriving photographers’ community that developed along the lines of street, press and studio photography, with their very own pictorial traditions and aesthetics.

Studio photography still fulfils an important social function, posing for the camera and the images in a photo album and the visual memory and the very core of a unique aesthetic. Street photography developed in Mali during the independence movement in the 1960ies and initially set out to capture the sense of excitement about the future of that era. Other forms of documentary photography also fulfil important social functions, like that of an information medium for the illiterate, but also with regard to the circulation of traditions and stories. These areas of “applied” photography have their own market.

However, structures for training and financing artistic photography, as seen from a western point of view, are scarce. Very often, artistic projects can only happen within an international context, which puts the photographers in a position of expectations and tension between wanting to do their own traditions and demands justice as well as meeting the demands of the western art market. This western art market has already established itself, for example in the form of two regular art fairs since the 1990ies: the biennial of photography in Bamako (1994-2011) and the Dak’Art in Dakar, which also happens biannually.

Artists from Bamako include Emmanuel Bakary Daou, Fatoumata Diabaté (also Dakar), Harandane Dicko, Malick Sidibé and Amdou Sow. Artists from Dakar are Malika Diagana, Omar Victor Diop, Elise Fitte-Duval, Mamadou Gomis, Angélina Nwachukwu, Boubacar Touré Mandemory, Djibril Sy and Ibrahima Thiam.


This exhibition is a co-laboration between the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design and Stadthaus Ulm, supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and Walther Collection. In the course of the project there will be a direct exchange between artists and students from Bamako, Dakar and Baden-Württemberg.

Admission to the exhibition is free.

Project management: Dr. Bärbel Küster, Stuttgart
Curators: Wiebke Ratzeburg, Stuttgart / Tübingen and Dr. Bärbel Küster, Stuttgart
Vernissage: Thursday, 18 September 2014, 7 -9 pm
Introduction by Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, councilwoman in Erlangen (GRÜNE), born in Bamako, raised in Dakar




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