On Malick Sidibé and Nick Brandt: Framing Africa In Contrasting Lenses - okayafrica

Installation view. Malick Sidibé. Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 West 20th Street, New York, March 17 – April 23, 2016.

“The act of photographing Africa has often been bound up with a certain conflict of vision: between how Africans see their world and how others see that world.”
—Okwui Enwezor

Framing Africa is complex.

I recently went to see two African themed photography shows currently showing in New York. The style and focus was remarkably dissimilar. Even though Nick Brandt and Malick Sidibé both favor black and white portraiture, how and where they focus their lenses produce different results.


My next stop was the Jack Shainman Gallery where Sidibé’s solo exhibition provides good contrast. The studio portraits of Sidibé present us with a unique opportunity to consider photography through a non-Western prism.

In his photography, the Mali native affords his subjects’ agency over their image and representation. Although Sidibé carefully and deliberately instructs the pose of his subjects, the resulting images always appear to capture a moment rather than feeling static or staged.

Walking into Jack Shainman Gallery felt like walking into a community of familiar people. There is a timelessness quality to the images. Sidibé is interested in the efficacy of[...]

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