Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mali: Music and the Photography of Malick Sidibe

Flowers And A Motorcycle, 1975/ Photograph: Malick Sidibe, 
Andre Magnin and Tristan Hoare/ The Guardian

Music videos traffic in symbols and no other symbols of emerging postcoloniality are as iconic as Malick Sidibe's photographs of Malian youth from the 50s and 60s. Sidibe recently won a World Press photo award in the arts and entertainment category - here - and I've been waiting for another showcase like this of Sidibe's photos for an excuse to re-post this old video of Manu Dibango's "Woa," which compliments, and pays tribute to, Sibide perfectly...

...or that Sibide black and white look and feel captured in sweaty colors in Janet Jackson's apartheid themed 1997 Got till its Gone video, directed by Mark Romanek:

But we would be remiss if didn't also stress that Sidibe's photography, as the Guardian's John Henley does here, also has its own origins in music:
Like all Sidibé's work, it captures the pride and exuberance of a generation of young Africans during two decades of momentous – and euphoric – social and cultural change. The arrival of the twist, the cha cha cha and rock'n'roll in Mali in the late 1950s, and independence from France in 1960, proved a heady cocktail. Bamako's nights got hot. The boys formed clubs to impress the girls: the Sputniks, the Wild Cats, the Black Socks. "We were entering a new era, and people wanted to dance," Sidibé says. "Music freed us. Suddenly, young men could get close to young women, hold them in their hands. Before, it was not allowed. And everyone wanted to be photographed dancing up close. They had to see it!"


Alex Engwete said...

Wow, man, thanks for this post. I've heard of Sidibe's photography but never got to really look at one. He has the eye!... I also followed the link to The Guardian: I was "taken" by the picture of the dancers! I don't know why, but that photo triggered in my mind the song “Dimanche à Bamako” of Amadou and Mariam!

bunmi said...

thanx. yep, that fab pic of guy and girl dancing should be blown up and used as a flag for Mali or something, and u came up with the perfect soundtrack.


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