documenting the magic of mali's youth culture

Malick Sidibé's lens captured the vivacity and energy of a newly independent Mali in the 1960s; his black and white shots of the country's youth are soaked in laughter and romance. As Somerset House prepares for the first major retrospective in the UK...

by Ryan White
15 September 2016, 1:25pm

The 60s was a period of significant social change for Malians. When the country achieved independence from France in 1960, so began a cultural revolution that saw bold fashion and rock'n'roll music rise in popularity amongst Mali's youth. Acclaimed photographer Malick Sidibé was there to capture this cultural shift, and the electric energy of nighttime in the years that followed.

Sidibé's work has become a powerful document of an important period in the country's transformation, and decades later he became the first photographer and the first African artist to receive a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, in 2007. Now, six months after his death, Sidibé's photographs will be displayed in the first major UK retrospective of his work at Somerset House, curated by André Magnin and Philippe Boutté. Infusing the exhibition with Sidibé's iconic words, "music freed us," The Eye of Modern Mali will feature a soundtrack that recreates the spirit of these times and sounds of the nightclubs that many of the images were taken in. It's curated by DJ, presenter, and African music expert Rita Ray. Get a preview of what's on show below. 

Malick Sidibé: The Eye of Modern Mali will run at Somerset House from October 6, 2016 to January 15, 2017.


Text Ryan White
Photography Malick Sidibé

Somerset House
Malick Sidibé
The Eye of Modern Mali