Art

Seeing Is Believing: Observations from Bamako Encounters - African Biennale of Photography

Fanyana Hlabangane’s Silent Conversations, 2017-2019, installed at Palais de la Culture Amadou Hampaté Ba. Photo courtesy of © Korka Kassoguè and Bona Bell.
Fanyana Hlabangane’s Silent Conversations, 2017-2019, installed at Palais de la Culture Amadou Hampaté Ba. Photo courtesy of © Korka Kassoguè and Bona Bell.

At the heart of the 12th edition of "Bamako Encounters - African Biennale of Photography"—  which is dubbed Streams of Consciousness: A Concatenation of Dividuals and on view until January 31st, 2020—is the question, how do we free photography from the photographic? The biennale takes its title from a 1977 improvised Jazz record by Abdullah Ibrahim and Max Roach, and it seeks to reframe photography by African artists and artists of the Diaspora as an expanded and interconnected field beyond the imagistic. The exhibition likens the medium’s process to the ebbs and flows of rivers such as the Niger, Nile, Congo and Mississippi; bodies of water that have long connected people, ideas, places and cultures. This proposition calls for thinking beyond images to release photography from this fixity and finality while engaging with the fact that they exist as part of a larger context and a presentation-specific whole.

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