Bamako Encounters Photography Biennale led by its curatorial team that includes Artistic Director Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, the co-curators Aziza Harmel, Astrid Sokona Lepoultier and Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh opens on the 30th of November 2019 and will run until the 31st of January 2020
Press and Professional Preview Days: November 30–December 3, 2019, Various venues in Bamako, Mali
Art Director: Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
Curatorial team: Aziza Harmel, Astrid Sokona Lepoultier, Kwasi Ohene Ayeh
Sites: Musée National du Mali, Palais de la Culture – Amadou Hampate Ba, Mémorial Modibo Keita, Conservatoire des arts et métiers multimédias Balla Fasséké Kouyaté, Galerie Médina, Musée de la Femme – Mousso Kounda, Institut Français du Mali…
Bamako Encounters, the historical and internationally renowned Biennale for Photography and Video Art on the African Continent, is proud to announce the artists who will contribute to its 25th-anniversary edition. The Biennale will run in Bamako, Mali from the 30th of November 2019 to the 31st of January 2020. Conceived by Artistic Director Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and a curatorial team comprised of Aziza Harmel, Astrid Sokona Lepoultier and Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, with artistic advisors Akinbode Akinbiyi, Seydou Camara and scenographer Cheick Diallo, this edition is an invitation to think about the artistic practice of photography as a stream of consciousness, as well as to consider photography beyond the tight corset of the photographic; the moment of a snapshot emanates from a flow of thoughts and associations reflecting the photographer’s inner voice, which is unavoidably and constantly in motion.
Titled Streams of Consciousness, after the eponymous 1977 record by Abdullah Ibrahim and Max Roach, the Biennale will employ multiple overstandings of how such streams can be used as photographic tools. Tools that bridge the African continent with its various diasporas, in addition to conveying cultures and epistemologies. ‘Africa’ has, after all, long ceased to be a concept limited to the geographical space called Africa. Africa as a planetary concept relates to people of African origin, the I & I, that are spread over the world in Asia, Oceania, Europe, the Americas and the African continent.
The exhibition will apply the notion of streams of consciousness as a metaphor for the flux of ideas, peoples, cultures that flow across and with rivers like the Niger, Congo, Nile or Mississippi. This edition of the Biennale listens carefully to remoteness, and invisible matters, hitherto erased voices and images, and celebrates politics and poetics of (in)animate ecosystems. It expands on the role of collectives in African photographic practices, and the possibility of collectively telling our own stories through images, arguing for the fact that in society we are not individuals, but dividuals: divisible entities that together make up a larger collective. In an effort to go beyond the frame of photography as a visual experience, this Biennale will engage with the textuality, the tangibility, the performativity and above all the sonicity of photography. The sonic properties of photography are envisioned as streams of consciousness wherein the photographic and phonographic intersect. How can we understand the lyricism of the photographic in that space of cognitive flux? The stream in streams of consciousness is a spectrum that encompasses the conscious and unconscious and forms a space in which the notions of consciousness and unconsciousness collapse into each other.
Clockwise from top: Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Photographer: Alexander Steffens), Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh (Photographer: Kofi Kankam), Astrid Sokona Lepoultier (Photographer: Moussa John Kalapo), Aziza Harmel.
An exhibition told in four verses
Roughly eighty-five artists from all over the African continent and diasporas will showcase their contributions.
Four chapters have arisen from the artist selection, each of which will take the beholder on their own distinct stream of consciousness narrative. The chapters are named after verses taken from a poem featured in the prelude of The Dilemma of a Ghost, a play written by Ama Ata Aidoo.
‘The Sudden Scampering In The Undergrowth’
On Presence of the Invisible, the Remote, and other Ghostly Matters
‘For The Mouth Must Not Tell Everything’
On Politics and Poetics of Ecosystems
‘We Came From Left, We Came From Right’
On Displacement, Errantry and Diasporas
‘The Twig Shall Not Pierce Our Eyes’
On the Possibility of Hope and the Future as Promise
List of participating artists of Streams of Consciousness:
Ibrahim Ahmed (Egypt/USA), Nirveda Alleck (Mauritius), Emmanuelle Andrianjafy (Madagascar), Roger Anis (Egypt), Yannick Anton (Canada), Afrane Akwasi Bediako (Ghana), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Cameroon), Jodi Bieber (South Africa), Milena Scherezade Carranza Valcárcel (Peru), Cédrick-Isham (France), Nidhal Chamekh (Tunisia), Amsatou Diallo (Mali), Moustapha Diallo (Mali), Dickonet (Mali), Adji Dieye (Italy / Senegal), Fakhri El Ghezal (Tunisia), Badr El Hammami (Morocco), Yagazie Emezi (Nigeria), Theo Eshetu (Ethiopia / Italy / The Netherlands/ United Kingdom, Fototala King Massassy (Mali), Abrie Fourie (South Africa), Rahima Gambo (Nigeria), Eric Gyamfi (Ghana), Yasmine Hajji (France), Halima Haruna (Nigeria), Fanyana Hlabangane (South Africa), Renée Holleman (South Africa), Adama Jalloh (United Kingdom/Sierra Leone), Maxime Jean-Baptiste (France), Amina Ayman Kadous (Egypt), Mansour Ciss Kanakassy (Senegal), Mouna Karray (Tunisia), Godelive Kabena Kasangati (DR Congo), Bouchra Khalili (France/Morocco), Nicène Kossentini (Tunisia), Kitso Lynn Lelliott (Botswana / South Africa), Keli Safia Maksud (Kenya/Tanzania), Harun Morrison & Helen Walker (United Kingdom), Santiago Mostyn (Sweden / Trinidad / Zimbabwe), Khalil Nemmaoui (Morocco), Yvon Ngassam (Cameroon), Antoine Ngolke-do’o (Cameroon), Christian Nyampeta (The Netherlands/Rwanda), Abraham Oghobase (Nigeria), Adeola Olagunju (Nigeria), Léonard Pongo (Belgium), Nader Mohamed Saadallah (Egypt), Amadou Diadié Samassékou (Mali), Mara Sanchez Renero (Mexico), Ketaki Sheth (India), Buhlebezwe Siwani (South Africa), Selasi Awusi Sosu (Ghana), Mohamed Thara (Morocco), Dustine Thierry (Curaçao / The Netherlands), Bouba Touré (France / Mali), Hamdia Traoré (Mali), Andrew Tshabangu (South Africa), Guy Woueté (Cameroon).
Charles Okereke, Homeward, Mali, 2010. Invisible Borders Trans-African Project. Courtesy of Rencontres de Bamako.
Association des Femmes Photographes du Mali (AFPM) (Mali), Collectif Orchestre vide (France), Collective 220 (Algeria), Iliso Labantu Photography Collective (South Africa), Invisible Borders (Trans-Afrique), Kamoinge (USA/Pan-Africa), Kolektif 2 Dimansyon (K2D) (Haiti), MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora (Pan-Africa), The Otholith Group (Ghana/India/United Kingdom).
Felicia Abban (Ghana), Akinbode Akinbiyi (Nigeria), Jihan El Tahri (Egypt), Armet Francis (Jamaica), Liz Johnson Artur (United Kingdom), Deborah Willis (USA), Eustaquio Neves (Brazil).
Do you hear me calling? (video installation by Theaster Gates, USA), Musow Ka Touma Sera (curated by Fatima Bocoum, Mali), Dja Tigui: L’hote de Mon Ombre (curated by Nakhana Diakite Prats, France/Senegal), The Works of Tolu Odukoya 1945-2015 (curated by Uche James Iroha, Nigeria), Legends of the Casbah (curated by Riason Naidoo, South Africa), À l’Est de Bamako (curated by Françoise Huguier, France), Five Photographers: A tribute to David Goldblatt (curated by John Fleetwood, South Africa).
Public program, film program and complementary exhibitions
This anniversary edition of Rencontres de Bamako will feature a rich public program, consisting of artist talks, performances and discursive events. Fables of Time, the film program of the Biennale takes political and ideological histories into account and acknowledges the ambivalence of the moving image; i.e. to be able to function in service of poetry, conformism and politics. The Biennale will also be accompanied by an extensive reader, with contributions by Bernard Akoi-Jackson, Viola Allo, Omar Berrada, Kwame Dawes, Chantal Edie, Christine Eyene, Kangsen Feka Wakai, Denise Ferreira Da Silva, Thulile Gamedze, Nacira Guénif-Souilamas, Maï-Do Hamisultane-Lahlou, Salah Hassan, Tsitsi Jaji, Seloua Louste Boulbina, Vladimir Lucien, Bongani Madondo, Sada Malumfashi, Olivier Marbeouf, Renée Mboya, Athi Mongezeleli Joja, Sorana Munsya, Simon Njami, Nontobeko Ntombela, Olu Oguibe, Emeka Okereke, Zoe Samudzi, kąrî’kạchä seid’ou, Safiya Sinclair and Stanley Wolukau- Wanambwa.
Several thematic exhibitions will complete the Biennale’s program: special consideration is given to collective practices to address the possibility of creating communities that complement each other. A full overview of the complementary exhibitions will be announced later in the year.