Egyptians, 27 African countries at Bamako Encounters in Malian capital

Ati Metwaly from Bamako, Mali, Wednesday 2 Nov 2011

Egyptians among photographers and video artists from 27 African countries taking part in one of the continent's most important artistic events

Rencontres de Bamako

Rencontres de Bamako (Bamako Encounters) is an African photography biennial, organised since 1994 by the Malian Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the French Institute.

The biennale has grown to become one of the most important artistic events in Africa, a crucial hub for artists and curators working in photography. The exhibition unites 45 photographers and 10 video artists from 27 countries. With over 280 works presented, the biennale is a dynamic panorama of African creativity.

Themed ‘for a sustainable world’, the event examines this proposal with the intention of drafting a status report and paying particular attention to the signs and forms of possible resistance.

During the biennale, photographers have a chance to meet and display their work. Moreover, it has an important impact on artistic reflection, as well as economic, historic and documentary dimensions of African creativity.

Artists from twenty-seven African countries are participating in this year’s event, including Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Congo, Mozambique, Ghana, and Senegal. Egypt is represented by photographers Amr Fekry, Marwa Adel and Nermine Hammam, and video artists Khaled Hafez, Amal Kenawy, and Ahmed Sabry.

The biennale’s  participants were carefully selected by the artistic directors, Michket Krifa and Laura Serani.

The opening ceremony took place on 1 November and was attended by Mame Cissé Mariam Sidibe Kaïdama, the prime minister of Mali; Hamane Niang, the Malian minister of culture, and Frédéric Mitterrand, the French minister of culture and communication, among other important officials.

Samuel Sidibe, the general delegate of Bamako Encounters, opened the event by thanking Malian governmental bodies, the French Institute in Bamako and other African countries, and all the other organisations and individuals that had extended their precious support and help in preparation for the event.

In his speech, Frédéric Mitterrand underscored the rapid development of the biennale over the past decade. “I am honoured to be with you at this important artistic event...The biennale has become an essential window of creativity for Mali, for the African continent and for the international creative scene.

“At the time of its creation Rencontres de Bamako was aiming to discover the photographic expressions of Africa. Today, the event is an integral part of the global contemporary photography landscape. Mali made it possible.”

The main hall of the National Museum of Mali houses all of the photographs. The display combines the highest artistic and aesthetic values with logistical and presentation standards that could teach many other African countries, including Egypt, a lesson.

Bamako Encounters will continue until 1 January 2012, however its first week – between 1 and 7 November 2011 – is filled with dynamic events designed to bring together visiting artists. The inauguration week will include a number of lectures on photography and its role in the African continent. On Thursday 3 November, Egyptian and Tunisian photographers will discuss the role of art against the backdrop of the socio-political changes of the Arab Spring.

Contemporary African creativity will be honoured at Paris Photo, which is inviting Bamako Encounters to Paris, from 10 to 13 November 2011.

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