Sidibé, Malick


Malian, c. 1935–2016


Working in his Bamako portrait studio from the 1960s onward, Malick Sidibé documented the sense of self-discovery that emerged in Mali following independence. Sidibé was a chronicler of his time and its people, celebrating a newly emerging identity in postcolonial Bamako. In the studio portraits, his subjects boldly occupy the photograph’s frame. The backdrop of the studio, the added personal objects, and Sidibé’s careful orchestration of position and point of view intimately capture the sitters’ character. Reversing the traditional portrait, Sidibé’s series Vues de Dos (Back View) (1999) offers a surprisingly intimate portrayal of Malian society. The portrayed women exude a calm confidence and natural self-awareness. Their bodies, wrapped in strikingly patterned fabrics, are compositioned sensitively. Facing away, glancing back, or absorbed in their own thoughts, Sidibé’s subjects engage with the viewer without compromising their own agency and independence.

In 2007, Sidibé became the first photographer to be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale.

Artworks by Sidibé, Malick

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