February 09, 2020

Visiting and learning at the ''Biennale de Photo du Mali''

 Hôtel Tamana, Hippodrome, Bamako
In novembre 25th 2019 I arrived to Bamako to represent the Galerie Zeinart and the French Institut of Mauritania at the Bamako Encounters which is the principal event dedicated to contemporary photography and new imagery in Africa
 The Biennale was celebrating its 25th anniversary and for the first time in its history organized by Malians, the Ministry of Culture of Mali. The Institut Français becoming a partner and not the main organizer.
Musée National du Mali, permanent collection - Textiles
Musée National du Mali, permanent collection - Bamanan puppets
 As I arrived ahead of the opening I had the time to visit the places we're the different events would take place. The Museum was a beautiful discovery as it sits in a middle of a green Park, Bamako beeing heavily polluted and hot it was a wonderful place to chill out. 
Musée National du Mali, permanent collection - traditional masks and sculpture
 The Restaurant was also a nice finding and as the Biennale opened you could see and meet all the artistes, curators and visitors. And a beautiful view into the green area.
Restaurant African Grill Musée Nationale du Mali
Leisurely and as I had to get used to the heat, even if I live in a very hot country in the Sahara we have mild winters due to the proximity of the capital Nouakchott to the sea and temperatures at night time can go down to 11ºC not the case in Bamako where temperatures where over 40ºC everyday and going down at night to 27ºC not that easy when you want to move all day and see everything.
Marché Artisanale et M.Kader Sylla
And of course I visited the Marché Artisanale and met M.Sylla in the jewelers area. M.Sylla a psychotherapist lived most of his life in Paris and comes back for a three month holiday every year now he's retired. He took me around the market and as he knew everybody and due to his Parisian background we did it very quickly so that I could move on to the INA.
INA - Institut National des Arts de Bamako. Professeur Ben Galy, teaches drums, balafon and musical theory.
The INA is the National Institute of Arts situated just by the side of the Marché Artisanale.
When this school was opened in 1933 it was called Ècole d'Artisanat Soudanais (Sudanese School of handcrafts) after the Independence in 1963 under the presidency of Mobidou Keita, the School changed name and was made bigger to accommodate  Visual Arts, Dramatic performing arts, Music and social-cultural activities.
Today it teaches around 600 hundred students from all over the country that got through the exam to get in. There are no tuition fees and students are given uniforms.
Saveurs du Patio, restaurant de l'Institut Français du Mali
One of the places I had to visit was the Institut Français du Mali. Here again a nice restaurant and new faces that would become familiar in the few next days. On the left in the sketch Cheikh Diallo, malian designer and scenographer for the Bamako Biennale with architect Cheikh Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso, on the other table Co- Curator Astrid Lepoultier.
John Fleetwood and Amy Daniels putting up the work of Alexia Webster
 The Institut Français was to hold an exhibition honouring South Africans photographers, David Goldblatt, Alexia Webster, Jabulani Dhlamini, Mauro Vombe and Pierre Crocquet.
As I walked in to the space of the gallery of the IFM, curator John Fleetwood and coordinator Amy Daniels where putting up the work of AlexiaWebster - Street Studios shot in different locations around the world where she sets up street studios and invites passers-by to a dialogue and a photo. A small curtain hide the entrance to the cinema and small children kept coming in and out.
Hotel Tamana night time group of photographers exhibiting at the Hotel curated by Fatoumata Diabaté

The garden of Taxi Bamako
Penda Mobido Keita, last details and coaching for the hostesses of the Encounters Galerie Medina
Galerie Medina first floor Inside the Isma N'Diaye Jazz collection
Its interesting to see and visit places just before they're ready to open.
This morning at Galerie Medina Penda Mobido Keita, that works at the gallery was given directions to the hostesses that be spread around town in all the places where the Biennale is taking place. Next day the installation Inside the Isma N'Diaye Jazz Collection was installed and places where getting ready for the big opening. More than 15 venues across the capital are operating as exhibition spaces, including the Palais de la Culture Amadou Hampaté Ba, Musée National du Mali, and Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimédia Balla Fasseké Kouyaté.

Galerie Medina, Bamako
Night time at Gallery Medina, opening and Brass Band with on your right Mama Sissoko - super Biton Ségou.
Biton was the name of the king of the Bamana one of the ethnic groups of West Africa which capital was in Ségou.

unfinished portrait of Igo Diarra

Opened by Igo Lassana Diarra  Galerie Medina is a great spacious gallery in the hearth of Bamako, center for culture with a media library.
He is also the person in charge of the Biennale so finding and talking to him was not that easy in and around the opening days.
A man of Culture he's part of a new generation of African Culturel Operators proactively promoting the arts and culture in Mali, Africa, and beyond.

Its over 40ºC and we go from venue to venue for the openings

Opening Palais de la Culture Amadou Hampaté Ba with the performance of the dancers of Kettly Noel
Palais de la Culture,  les Marionettes
Invisible Borders at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers MultimédiasBalla Fasséké Kouyaté

Memorial Modibo Keita, Buhlebezwe Siwani- Ama Hubo (2018) 2 channel vidéo

Memorial Modibo Keita, Eric Gyamfi, fixing shadows, Julius and I (2018-2019) photo and sound installation
 Forums were given a prominent place during the opening week of the Biennale and they reunited, artistes, curators and people from a the art world. Great places to sketch and listen to the discussions, stimulating and opening doors.

Raw Material with Marie-Helene Pereira, Lionel Manga and Jihan El tahri
Film under construction 'L'école du caméléon' by Karima Boudou, Renée Akiteleke Mboya et Aude Christel Mgba
Talk Talk Talk
Talk Talk Talk
Savvy Contemporary, Exclamation, prise!  Sur le bruit des images
Photography and collectives
The river Niger that runs across the city

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