In Bamako



Malick Sidibé, Le Faux Musicien Derriere sa Voiture, 1971/2008, silver gelatin print, 20 7/8″ x 14″.

The Malian photographer Malick Sidibé’s latest exhibition opens tonight at Jack Shainman Gallery. Sidibé, who’s seventy-nine or eighty, lives in Bamako, where he’s worked as a photographer since the fifties; he’s known for his vivacious black-and-white studies of the city’s youth culture. “You go to someone’s wedding, someone’s christening,” he told LensCulture in 2008, speaking of the renown he gained as a party photographer:

I was lucky enough at that time to be the intellectual young photographer with a small camera who could move around. The early photographers like Seydou Keïta worked with plate cameras and were not able to get out and use a flash. So I was much in demand by the local youth. Everywhere … in town, everywhere! Whenever there was a dance, I was invited … At night, from midnight to four A.M. or six A.M., I went from one party to another. I could go to four different parties. If there were only two, it was like having a rest. But if there were four, you couldn’t miss any. If you were given four invitations, you had to go. You couldn’t miss them. I’d leave one place, I’d take thirty-six shots here, thirty-six shots there, and then thirty-six somewhere else, until the morning.

His new show spans the whole of his career; it’s up through April 23. 

Surprise Party, 2002, silver gelatin print, 23 3/4″ x 19 3/4″.

Vues de dos—Juin, 2003/2004, vintage gelatin silver print, glass, paint, cardboard, tape, and string, 10 3/4″ x 14 1/2″.

A Côté de la Voiture, 1971/2002, silver gelatin print on board, 23 3/4″ x 20″.

Les apprentis mécanitiens du garage de Dramané, 1966/2008, silver gelatin print, 15 1/2″ x 14 3/4″.