Rencontres de Bamako – 11th African Biennale of Photography : ‘Afrotopia’

Bamako, Mali
02 Dec 2017 - 31 Jan 2018

Zied Ben Romdhane 'West of Life' (2014-2016)

Zied Ben Romdhane 'West of Life' (2014-2016)

Organised by the Malian Ministry of Culture and the Institut français, and directed by Samuel Sidibé, Director of the National Museum of Mali, Les Rencontres de Bamako is the leading international platform dedicated to contemporary photography and new images in Africa.

The 11th African Biennale of Photography, will take place from December 2, 2017 to January 31, 2018, with professional days from December 2–5, 2017.

This year’s Biennale, called Afrotopia, is curated by cultural consultant and independent curator Marie-Ann Yemsi.

The decision to call this biennale Afrotopia, echoing the book by Senegalese intellectual Felwine Sarr, reflects a commitment to ensuring that this historic and pioneering biennale for photography is integral to the new Pan-African forces for change, to embracing them and contributing to them,” Marie-Ann Yemsi.

The Pan-African exhibition
The Pan-African exhibition, at the National Museum of Mali, will be the beating heart of the Biennale. For this exhibition, the selection committee was composed of the Artistic Director, Marie-Ann Yemsi, the General Delegate, Samuel Sidibé, as well as members of the Curatorial Advisory Committee, Sammy Baloji, Olfa Feki, Rébecca Lamarche-Vadel, Lekgetho James Makola, Aïda Muluneh, and Azu Nwagbogu.

40 proposals have been chosen among over 300 applications from artists and collectives based across the African continent or in its diasporas. Through their great diversity of approaches and visual languages, the artists generate alternative narratives about Africa that build new bonds with the past, shed light on the present and open perspectives for the future.

The full list of the artists selected for the Pan-African exhibition is available online.


Programme, collateral exhibitions and events
The Rencontres offer exhibitions displayed in Bamako’s main cultural venues, including the National Museum of Mali, the epicentre of the event, the Musée du District, the Galerie Médina, the Institut français and the National Park:

La Vie selon James Barnor (Life According to James Barnor) curated by Clémentine de la Féronnière
Independence Remixed curated by Justin Davy
Recent Histories: Deconstructed Spaces, Surveyed Memories, curated by The Walther Collection
Afrofuturism: Transhumans Imagining A New Vision For Africa curated by Azu Nwagbogu
La Part de l’autre (The Part of the Other) curated by Nathalie Gonthier


Professional workshops
The Forum based on the artists’ active participation will take place at the Biennale Village from December 2–5.

With Performing Afrotopia, Marie-Ann Yemsi, offers in collaboration with Kettly Noël an Afrotopia evening event, an abstract chapter of the Pan-African exhibition that explores the advantageous links between images, dance and performance. It will feature artists and collectives Rachel Monosov and Admire Kamudzengerere, Transcultural Protocol, Nelisiwe Xaba and Kettly Noël, The Impossible Dance.

The Ciné Mobile will offer open-air screenings to a large and socially-diverse audience. Designed by Anna-Alix Koffi with the musical accompaniment of a DJ set or local musicians, this slideshow of African photographers presents a selection of works from the biennale’s various exhibitions.

An educational programme will be organised over the entire biennale in partnership with private Malian cultural operators.

Collateral exhibitions will be held across the city in conjunction with the Biennale. The 11th Rencontres will be shown in the Netherlands in April 2018 in partnership with the Museum of World Cultures.



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