Bienal de Bamako

Bienal de Bamako I Bamako I Mali

El título del sexto Encuentro Africano de Fotografía, celebrado en noviembre de 2005, fue Otro mundo. Sugiere un tema evocador de estereotipos, de África como lugar de ritual, de lo primitivo y del Otro. Viewed from this perspective, Africa has long been another world and one might wonder what curator Simon Njami’s intention was with his thematically resonant title. Did he mean it to continue in the tradition of the mysterious, “dark continent”, the way the West has always portrayed it, or was it meant to subvert the clichés and images of Africa?A series of photographs by Nigeria’s James Iroha Uchechukwu offered some suggestions. Head on shows a bloodied sack being transported on a man’s head. La sangre que rezuma gotea por sus manos levantadas. Bloody boots, another image from Uchechukwu’s series, presents droplets of blood on a pair of gumboots. La fuente de la sangre es una masa de cabezas de cabras decapitadas. Pictures such as this – depicting the theme of ritual in the everyday world, and drawn from countries such as The Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Morocco – were ubiquitous at the African Encounters of Photography. ¿Cómo vamos a interpretarlos? ¿Son estas imágenes emblemáticas del otro mundo al que alude el título de la muestra? En un ensayo de catálogo, Njami ofrece una idea. “If territories are free and if a landscape belongs to nobody in particular, it is imperative, in the global world we live in, that Africans produce their own images and be the ones to stage their own truths. Perhaps they will not avoid the traps of exoticism, but at least they will appropriate that exoticism, which they will have the right to claim …” To rephrase Njami, it is perhaps a question of self-representation and ownership, of Africans articulating their own experiences, in this case, through their own lenses.This process has/is already happening, set in motion by the studio photography of Malian portrait photographers such as Seydou Keita (1921-2001), whose work reflected on the aspirations of middle class Africans from the 1960s and 70s. Even today, his work continues to exert a marked influence over African photography.Sudan’s national exhibition, curated by Frenchman Claude Iverné, raised significant issues relating to ownership and appropriation. Iverné’s show smacked of the colonial belief that Africans are voiceless, and that they need more articulate Europeans to speak for them. Esto resalta un punto importante. Aparte del extraño curador africano célebre que trabaja en Europa y América, los curadores africanos debidamente calificados son escasos en este continente, y los recursos para proyectos curatoriales aún menos. Until it is redressed foreign curators will continue to harvest the crops we grow.A more ambiguous issue raised by Iverné’s Sudanese show relates to ownership of work in the private and public domains. Las leyes anticuadas persisten y aún determinan el control estatal sobre la fotografía en Sudán, donde las imágenes de la vida en el país deben coincidir con la ideología oficial. Official “photography permits” still include bans on picturing bridges, airports, dams and military zones, while so-called “amateur photography permits” prohibit the photographing of beggars and “other subject matter that may be defamatory to the state”. In Sudan, state censorship determines and frames the photographer’s image.Amongst the many photographers and style presented, the festival included work by John Mauluka (1932 – 2004). A Zimbabwean photographer, Mauluka’s output includes both news reportage and studio-based photography. El trabajo de Argelia también se centró en la turbulenta guerra civil en ese país. But is there no poetry in the documentary photography coming out of Africa?According to Jacques Leenhardt, a convenor of the master-class workshop in Bamako, photography is at its best when it emulates poetry, “… not only the complex and problematic reality of the outside world, but also the way a person’s eye has seen it. It shows a person’s self-expression, a person becoming the poet we all have within us …” Bruno Hadjih’s sfumato prints, which describe intimate moments in Algerian daily life, probably came closest to what Leenhardt was referring to when he spoke of “true photographic images”. Rediscovering his native land, Hadjih’s impressionist photographs leave much to the imagination and interpretation. En Djazalia, Damas, los patrones vagos que evocan el movimiento crean un aura del misterioso mundo del Islam sufí. Within the midst of the blur of colour and shadow, a woman, in the distance, neatly conforming to the laws of composition, appears momentarily in focus and just as quickly disappears into the surrounding shapes.Still on the theme of colour, Martinique’s Jean-Luc de Laguarigue’s work focuses on memory, his nostalgic images concentrating the viewer’s attentions on beautiful decaying and peeling walls. Sus fotografías capturan huellas poéticas en los detalles que dejan los glamorosos carteles publicitarios que datan de décadas pasadas en la isla. De Laguarigue tiene un sentido inherente del contraste. Él representó deliciosamente esto en una obra que contrastaba una pared trasera de color rosa brillante bañada en luz, una pared verde decrépita en primer plano bañada en sombras. His work recalls the use of colour in Henri Matisse’s The Piano Lesson (1916).The depth and diversity of work emanating from South Africa, from the documentary work of Guy Tillim to the more innovative digital montage of Jane Alexander and Lien Botha, did not go unnoticed. Mikhael Subotzky’s mosaic of Pollsmoor Prison won him the prestigious Jury Prize, the jury also honouring Ranjith Kally for his lifetime work. Este reconocimiento fue particularmente conmovedor considerando que Kally solo realizó su primera exposición individual en Sudáfrica en 2004, en la Galería Goodman. Tenía 79 años en ese momento. La principal exposición internacional fue una encantadora variedad de fotografías del continente, y el núcleo que unió las muchas otras exposiciones de una manera similar al fértil río Níger, que atraviesa Mali. Con un telón de fondo de los dulces sonidos de la kora de África occidental y la rica herencia de las mezquitas de barro y los manuscritos árabes centenarios, la Bienal de Bamako sigue brindando una oportunidad única para que los fotógrafos africanos se encuentren y expongan su trabajo a nivel internacional. .
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