Galerie Artwork-Z / Studio Art-Z : Seem at me!

The Galerie Artwork-Z is opening a new place dedicated to African pictures.
The to start with exhibition, entitled Regardez moi!, is devoted to the picture studios in Africa in the 1960s and 70s (Mali, Burkina-Faso, Senegal, Benin, Togo and Kenya).
Olivier Sultan, Director, despatched us this textual content:

The ritual of posing / The picture studio in Africa in the 1960s and 70s

In the 1950’s the visual appearance of  photo studios founded a ceremonial connection among photographers and their versions. From the outset, these studio photos are putting for the solemnity of the poses and the mutual regard in between the photographer and his model. This partnership is spelled out by two recurring particularities amongst lots of African photographers: – in Africa, the studio photographer was a highly regarded expert, with a significant social position. He was also the guardian of the visual memory of a group, the guarantor of the identification of the personal and the witness of the evolution of society. He was selected for his attributes as a mediator, social interpreter, intercessor which produced him additional than a skilled technician: a maker of icons.

The price of the session was rather significant, and was usually the to start with and only portrait. It was a actual occasion. We arrived from much absent, and dressed appropriately, we even wore fragrance occasionally! The photographer experienced to underline the social placement of the model and launched as a result of his design and style this element of  the dream and fantasy which constituted his creating, his design. Components (eyeglasses, outfits, look at, telephone, radio, plastic bouquets, shoes, cigarette, hat, moped) had been extremely essential: it was most likely fewer about demonstrating what you were than what  you preferred to develop into. The photographer desired time to be in a position to fully grasp the dynamics of the individuality posing in entrance of him.

African photography becoming, from its beginnings, aimed at the neighborhood current market and not from an outside standpoint, its particularity is that it unveiled above all the aspirations of the topic. Very little by small, photographers were integrating aesthetic investigation into their perform.

The portrait have to be recognized as a condensed ritual illustration of reality, of a social impression. Families and communities were often the initially recipients (we know the relevance of the extended family members in Africa, a group inside of which the photographic portrait normally takes its position). For the photographer, it was generally a issue of guessing, of revealing the desires, the deep aspirations of his design. Thus, at the end of the 1960s, young “yé-yé” from Bamako, Bobo Dioulasso, or Dakar sported their “bell bottom” trousers or their shorter skirts for the 1st time in the Sanlé Sory studio or in entrance of Malick Sidibé.

Youth had been the principal clientele of these studio photographers, exhibiting an enthusiasm towards sure elements of European lifestyle, as very well as seeking for themselves, and the new assert to one’s individuality.

African photographers were straight away at the extremely heart of their issue, of their group which they realized beautifully and which they occasionally supported fiscally and morally. They were the clever males, the fathers, generally the “stars”, the leaders. Their activity as photographers was complicated: they have been at the exact same time craftsmen (who perfectly mastered the procedure and understood how to mend their cameras), artists, and intercessors who participated in a rite of passage. No worry for hierarchy governed their exercise: restoring aged cameras, having identification photographs, creating the portrait of an ambassador or a notable, chatting with children in the street, with road vendors, making ready an exhibition for a museum in Paris or New York, very little  really had “priority”.

The vital point: was to be present for each human being, for each individual studio session.

In their beginnings, Seydou Keïta, Malick Sidibé or Sanlé Sory did not think about on their own “artists”, but intercessors, mediators, administrators of the social impression carried by their consumers. Small by very little, by sublimating their styles, by introducing decorations, by operating on the poses (the “back views” for Malick Sidibé, the do the job on the cloth backgrounds for Seydou Keïta), these photographers asserted their design and style, their writing . They understood how to enlarge the faces, function on the staging, integrate aesthetic dimensions into their operate.

In tune with their occasions, gifted with incredible acuity, they reinvented the artwork of portraiture in Africa. The recurrence of the staging is blended with the primordial worry for the role of the model: just about every portrait is an come upon, each matter is presented in a exclusive way, exalted in their class, their nobility, richness. The very same backgrounds, the identical equipment were utilised for usefulness from just one individual to an additional, a way for the artist to mark the ritual character of the pose for the gain of the subject matter in its singularity. But it is to superior no cost the artist from the framing of the composition, for the advantage of the genuine issue.
Certainly, Seydou Keïta – known during Bamako, and exhibited at the Cartier Basis in Paris – and Malick Sidibé – Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale in 2007, Hasselblad Prize in 2003 – ended up with out a doubt the most renowned, recognized globally.

They have been mindful of it. They had slowly shifted their issue of view, modified specified details of reference, with out shedding their development in artistic development, nor their perspective of the subject inscribed in the present.

In this article we are extremely significantly from the “ethnographic” or colonial images of the early 20th century, complicit in a spectacle in which an aesthetic and ideological method assigned the image of non-Western peoples a trophy value in a world of carnival spectacle: it was then somewhat a resource of domination, of ability, of classification of otherness.
African studio photography, generally meant for people and not for a sector or an outsider watch, was quite far from voyeurism. Its rise can be found in relation to an unparalleled historic time period: that of the independence of their countries, an period placed under the indication of hope, flexibility, and faith in the long run. As a image of modernity, it accompanied a motivation for emancipation from colonial authority, and resulted in a symbolic reappropriation of one’s check out of oneself.

Yet another particularity: frequently invested with a ritual operate, photography in Africa has prolonged echoed classic rites. Extra than a very simple inert picture, it is a element of the thoughts, it only retains the issue quickly. By it the individual can intervene in the all-natural cosmic course of action, lengthen daily life symbolically, earning the photographer an intercessor between two worlds, a maker of icons on paper, 1 who materializes the double of the other, both social and non secular, of the man or woman photographed. In West Africa, it quite rapidly integrated the cult of the useless: pictures of the deceased on their deathbed, use of the portrait through funeral rites.

In most African cultures, the representation of the human experience experienced to be impersonal: way too clear a resemblance could entice bad luck, even dying. It is fascinating to note that between the Igbo of West Africa pictures was the to start with tolerated trustworthy illustration of the human facial area. That of the deceased was hung face down from the wall, to stay away from an unwelcome “exit” of his spirit into the entire world of the dwelling. Amid the Yoruba (Nigeria, Benin), photography slowly changed the protecting dolls of the twin device, in the party of the death of just one of them. As a result as a result of it, the individual could intervene in the pure cosmic course of action, lengthen daily life symbolically.

Olivier Sultan, April 2024


Regardez-moi !
Jusqu’au 29 juin 2024
Galerie Artwork-Z & Studio Artwork-Z
27 et 29 rue Keller
75011 Paris France
06 63 24 42 22