Malian photographer Malick Sidibé (1935-2016) was among those who changed that perception, documenting the lives of young people in the city of Bamako as his country transformed from a French colony to an independent state. He showed his subjects enjoying their freedom at parties, dance clubs and sporting events.
After long nights, he would develop small gelatin prints and place them in folders or chemises to be used as a reference for ordering copies. During his career he took thousands of similar photos which in some cases are the sole record of a particular night. Today, with examples held at the permanent collections of the MoMA and the Art Institute of Chicago, they are considered important records in the history of post-colonial West African photography.
Four Sidibé chemises are currently on offer for £12,500 each at London’s David Hill Gallery. The exhibition Tête à Têtes – West African Portraiture from Independence into the 21st Century runs until November 27.