The 12th edition of the Bamako Encounters – African Biennale of Photography—the singular photographic and lens-based art biennale on the African continent—will run in Bamako, Mali, from November 30, 2019 to January 31, 2020, celebrating its 25 years of existence since the first edition in 1994.
Conceived by Artistic Director Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and a curatorial team comprised of Aziza Harmel, Astrid Sokona Lepoultier and Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, joined by artistic advisors Akinbode Akinbiyi, Seydou Camara and scenographer Cheick Diallo this edition is an invitation to think about the artistic practice of photography as a stream of consciousness, as well as to consider photography beyond the tight corset of the photographic. The moment of a snapshot emanates from a flow of thoughts and associations reflecting the photographer’s inner voice, which is unavoidably and constantly in motion.
Titled Streams of Consciousness, after the eponymous 1977 record by Abdullah Ibrahim and Max Roach, the Biennale will employ multiple understandings of how such streams can be used as photographic tools. Tools that bridge the African continent with its various diasporas, in addition to conveying cultures and epistemologies. “Africa” has, after all, long ceased to be a concept limited to the geographical space called Africa. Africa as a planetary concept relates to people of African origin, the I & I, that are spread over the world in Asia, Oceania, Europe, the Americas and the African continent.
The exhibition will apply the notion of the stream of consciousness as a metaphor for the flux of ideas, peoples, cultures that flow across and along with rivers like the Niger, Congo, Nile or Mississippi.
This edition of the Biennale listens carefully to remoteness, invisible matters, hitherto erased voices and images, as well as celebrating politics and poetics of (in)animate ecosystems. It deliberates on the role of collectives in African photographic practices, and the possibility of collectively telling our own stories through images, arguing for the fact that in society we are not individuals, but dividuals: divisible entities that together make up a larger collective. In an effort to go beyond the frame of photography as a visual experience, this Biennale will engage with the textuality, the tangibility, the performativity and especially the sonicity of photography. The sonic properties of photography are envisioned as a stream of consciousness wherein the photographic and phonographic intersect. How can we understand the lyricism of the photographic in that space of cognitive flux? The stream in streams of consciousness is a spectrum that encompasses the conscious and unconscious and forms a space in which the notions of consciousness and unconsciousness collapse into each other.
Roughly 85 artistic positions from the African art world have been invited to participate in the unraveling of Streams of Consciousness.
Ibrahim Ahmed, Nirveda Alleck, Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Roger Anis, Yannick Anton, Afrane Akwasi Bediako, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Jodi Bieber, Milena Scherezade Carranza Valcárcel, Cédrick-Isham, Nidhal Chamekh, Amsatou Diallo, Moustapha Diallo, Dickonet, Adji Fatou Amdy Dieye, Fakhri El Ghezal, Badr El Hammami, Yagazie Emezi, Theo Eshetu, Fototala King Massassy, Abrie Fourie, Rahima Gambo, Eric Gyamfi, Yasmina Hajji, Halima Haruna, Fanyana Hlabangane, Renée Holleman, Adama Jalloh, Maxime Jean-Baptiste, Amina Ayman Kadous, Mansour Ciss Kanakassy, Mouna Karray, Godelive Kabena Kasangati, Bouchra Khalili, Nicène Kossentini, Kitso Lynn Lelliott, Keli Safia Maksud, Harun Morrison & Helen Walker, Santiago Mostyn, Khalil Nemmaoui, Yvon Ngassam, Antoine Ngolke-do’o, Christian Nyampeta, Abraham Oghobase, Adeola Olagunju, Léonard Pongo, Nader Mohamed Saadallah, Amadou Diadié Samassékou, Mara Sanchez Renero, Ketaki Sheth, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Selasi Awusi Sosu, Mohamed Thara, Dustine Thierry, Boubakary Touré, Hamdia Traoré, Andrew Tshabangu, Guy Woueté
Association des Femmes Photographes du Mali (AFPM), Collective 220, Iliso Labantu Photography Collective, Invisible Borders, Kamoinge, MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, The Otholith Group, Collectif Orchestre vide, Kolektif 2 Dimansyon (K2D)
Felicia Abban, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Jihan El Tahri, Armet Francis, Liz Johnson Artur, Deborah Lewis, Eustaquio Neves
Do you hear me calling? (video installation by Theaster Gates), Musow Ka Touma Sera (curated by Fatima Bocoum), Dja Tigui: L’hote de Mon Ombre (curated by Nakhana Diakite Prats), The Works of Tolu Odukoya 1945-2015 (curated by Uche James Iroha), Legends of the Casbah (curated by Riason Naidoo), À l’Est de Bamako (curated by Françoise Huguier), Five Photographers: A tribute to David Goldblatt (curated by John Fleetwood)
In addition to the main exhibition, this anniversary edition of Bamako Encounters features a rich public program and film program. Several thematic exhibitions will also be on view during the Biennale’s run. The Bamako Encounters is accompanied by an extensive reader.
Founded in 1994, the Biennale is organized by the Ministry of Culture of Mali with the support of the Institut Français. Since its inception, the Biennale has been the first and main international event dedicated to African photography and video on the continent, and remains an essential event for contemporary art.
Lassana Igo Diarra, founder and Director of Galerie Medina (Mali) and Editions Balani’s, is the General Delegate of the Bamako Encounters.