Collection: Malick Sidibé

Malick Sidibé
b. 1935, Soloba, Mali; lives in Bamako, Mali
Danseur Méringué, 1964/2008
Silver gelatin print
24 x 19-3/4 inches
Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, museum purchase with PAMM's Acquisition Fund
Sid Hoeltzell

Malick Sidibé was one of the first African photographers to take his camera out of the studio, frequenting the legendary house parties and street gatherings that comprised the vibrant nightlife of Bamako, Mali, in the 1960s and 1970s. In image after image, he vividly captures the sense of exhilaration that reverberated throughout the capital city during the early years of the country's independence, as a new, modern national identity took shape following more than 60 years of French colonial rule. Sidibé's photographs reveal the important role Western popular music and fashion played in this context, transforming the country's urban youth culture. The prominence of figures like James Brown, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, and other British and North American icons-and of bell-bottom jeans, leather jackets, leisure suits, and patterned dresses-engenders a pointed irony. In Sidibé's words, "While there is an implicit contradiction in the embrace of international music after a long struggle for independence from outside control, in Mali that embrace was marked by a new autonomy and agency that had not existed before." At the same time that it celebrates universal human values, such as the exuberance of youth and the yearning for freedom, Sidibé's work serves as a record of these nuanced social dynamics, indicating the complexity of the historian's task in the age of globalization.¶

What do you think?