The eye of modern Mali – Somerset House pays tribute to Malick Sidibé

Malick Sidibé captures the young and carefree in the aftermath of Mali's independence

2 years agoText by


French colonisation dominated Mali for the first half of the 20th century, but when the swinging 60s came around French rule was replaced with a new leading force – Rock ‘n’ Roll. Malick Sidibé gives us an insight into the eye of modern Mali with an exciting new solo exhibition which promises to be a vivid insight into African youth culture.

The late photographer Sidibé is famed for his large and iconic black and white images depicting everyday life in Africa. Through his gaze, we can see the excitement of the Malian Youth as motorbikes and music, fashion and flares over threw everything Mali used to stand for under French rule.

Sidibé’s images capture the hopeful youth of Bamako in the aftermath of independence. Curated by André Magnin and Philippe Boutté, the exhibition, which is taking place at Somerset House, will showcase 45 original prints from the 1960s and 70s around three defined themes, ‘Au Fleuve Niger / Beside the Niger River’, ‘Tiep à Bamako / Nightlife in Bamako’, and ‘Le Studio / The Studio.’

Throughout the exhibition, it’s clear to see the cultural change that was sweeping the dusty streets of Bamako. Sidibé once stated that “music freed us” and in testimony to that statement, the gallery soundtrack will recreate the spirit of the nightclubs he once shot. Curated by DJ Rita Ray the music will feature an electric mix of music and sound fusions from Africa’s take on 1960’s and 1970’s popular music.

The exhibition is free and will be taking place at Somerset House throughout this winter.
For more information head over to the exhibition website.

Follow Drew Wyllie on Twitter