On the occasion of its 10th year, the African Biennale of Photography is staging a special anniversary edition with the overall theme of “Telling Time”. “Apart from the artistic aspect of the event” the festival curators tell us “this edition of the Encounters will help focus the news from Mali on cultural affairs of a more ‘positive’ nature in terms of image and economic revival”
The Biennale opened in October and just over one month later 19 people were killed in a terror attack at the Radisson Blu hotel across town. The previous 2013 edition of the Biennale had, in fact, been forced to be cancelled altogether due to escalating conflict and political unrest in the city. These events place the Biennale in the context of an intensely precarious and conflicted world but we are, of course, frequently over-obsessed with the bad news and not the good. Where in the world is not being affected by violence, disruption, tension and uncertainty?
“Humour” according to the curators regarding the selected work and artists “abounds and there is no lack of self-mockery on the part of the artists – both of themselves and their countries”
The Biennale has several strands this year. The “Telling Time” themed curated show in which artists and photographers were selected and invited to “create a narrative of Africa, not through a view of things on the surface but, rather, through the way they use the image to delve into the reality of their time. The approach is designed to create a link between the past, the present and the future of the continent”. Alongside this, a retrospective exhibition/archive has been created this showcases work and photographic processes from the last 10 editions of the Biennale. Thirdly a pan-African exhibition entitled ‘”Encounters” invited photographers to apply through an open call. 2015 drew a record number of applications (over 800) from more than 54 countries.
Rencontres de Bamako: 10th African Biennial of Photography runs at the National Museum of Mali, Bamako until 31st December.