A tribute to Malick Sidibé “The eye of Bamako”

Studio Malick. La collection d'appareils du maître.

Studio Malick. Collection of the master’s vintage equipment.

Famous Malian photographer Malick Sidibé passed away on April 14, at the age of 80. He takes away with him the memory of a carefree period during the early stages of his country’s independence, a time he had the privilege of witnessing.

Born in Soloba in 1936, Malick Sidibé first started out in the jewellery trade before being seduced by photography following an encounter. Frenchman Gérard Guillat, known as Gégé la pellicule (GG the film guy), gave him a leg up, hiring him as an apprentice in 1955.
Two years later, Studio Malick opened its doors in the working-class neighbourhood of Bagadadji in Bamako. The place was modest but soon attracted the 60s youth of the time. The photographer immediately became “the” reporter for the intoxicating nights of Bamako, capturing, party after party, the happy and carefree mood of the time. These photos snapped in the 1960s, along with his somewhat playful studio portraits, would see him become famous decades later. When he was finally revealed to the world at the first Rencontres de Bamako (Bamako Encounters) for photography in 1994, Malick Sidibé immediately received international recognition. His images feature in galleries and museums across the planet; he also has a string of awards to his name: the Hasselblad award for photography in 2003, the Golden Lion award at Venice’s Biennale event for contemporary art in 2007, and the Photo España Baume & Mercier prize in 2009.
Not long before his death, he had welcomed MOYI to his famous studio, as part of a report on Bamako (featuring in the soon to be published first issue of the magazine). The death of this artist who is considered a “national treasure” is, without doubt, a huge loss for the continent and the world.

A word from MOYI
Malick Sidibé never put up barriers; he made his own way, found his own photography style, giving free rein to his passion. His destiny would be extraordinary: he who saw himself as nothing more than a simple local photographer became a master of his craft. His images, reflecting the euphoric era of Bamako’s decolonisation, will be forever marked by inevitable nostalgia.

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