Magazine article New African

The Man Who Captured Happiness

Magazine article New African

The Man Who Captured Happiness

Article excerpt

Malick Sidibe was born in around 1935 in Soloba, Mali, at a time when precise birth registrations were hardly a priority. He was to die in April this year after a lifetime of photographic achievements--including being the only African to be awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennnale, in 2007.

He was to tell the Why Africa? 2008 exhibition's curators, for the eponymous book Why Africa: Le Collezione Pigozzi that accompanied the Turin show: "I don't know if I'm an artist, but I am a good photographer. I know how to capture precise instants and gestures, and to find nice poses. Photography is the art of observation. It is also an act of humanism among human beings."

Sidibe was to add some biographical detail: "I started out by studying drawing and entered the [French] Sudan School of Arts and Crafts. In 1955 I was hired to do odd jobs in a studio. The following year I bought myself a camera and startea making portraits and doing some photo journalism.

"In 1957, I opened my own studio, 'Studio Malick', where I am still working now.

"I believe in the power of images, which is why I invested myself totally, to add dimension to the subject matter. Photography is a form of writing. I've recorded the history of my country since it became independent like many African countries. I was appreciated because I looked for ways of recording moments of happiness. I displayed photographs of local nightlife in front of my studio. Everyone could see them, which is how I developed a clientele.

"I captured social change and the new life of young people in Mali. My work helped my country, even on an economic level. Young people wanted to have very beautiful clothes, which obliged them to change their image. In my photos, there is a truth about Africa that proves that the stereotyped views are lies. The happy moments and the hope you see in them are the opposite of poverty and war. …

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