EDITORIAL BY BISI SILVA
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Crafts in Mali and the Institut français are pleased to announce the 10th Bamako Encounters, African Biennale of Photography Telling Time, which explores the complex and multifaceted relationship between images and time. Inspired by both Mali’s rich cultural traditions of storytelling and the nation’s recent political upheavals, the forthcoming edition questions the methods by which artists narrate real and imagined experiences through different economies of time. In chronicling how artists address the unpredictable and consequential relationship between political action, social experience, and aesthetic experience, Telling Time offers a multiplicity of perspectives from which to assess the biennale’s enduring role as an international convener of photographic practices in Africa.
Historically, photographic images have been routinely interpreted as refractions of time and space relations, serving to advance visual arguments about the particularities of a given reality. Within this context Telling Time presents a nuanced array of lens-based projects that differently upend and reframe conventional interpretations of time through discrete structures of past, present, and future. The artists assembled use photography, film, video and animation to construct perspectives on time that are fragmented, disjunctive, or recursive in nature, offering alternative methods of engaging histories, experiences, and desires. While artists such as Malala Andrialavidrazana, Seydou Camara, and George Mahashe use archives and material traces to interrogate cultural traditions, the Collectif Perinium, George Senga, Aboubacar Traoré and Mudi Yahaya deploy strategies of reenactment and fabulation to reimagine histories and possible futures.
The concept of time in Africa has been the subject of popular and philosophical debates concerning political and technological belatedness, questions of colonial temporalities characterised by their links with the rise of capitalism, as well as the interventions made by liberation movements in radically deconstructing colonial time through projects of freedom, independence, and the development of civic identity. Yet the selected artists position these debates and histories as incomplete and ongoing, intervening through topical investigations on recent sociopolitical conflict as foregrounded in the practices of artists including Jean-Euloge Samba and Hippolyte Sama and through thematic studies of built environments as evidenced in the work of Helga Kohl, Filipe Branquinho, and Simon Gush.
In addition to presenting a pan-African exhibition consisting of thirty-nine selected artists from an international call, the Biennale will also comprise several monographic and thematic exhibitions that open up the discursive possibilities around the notion of time including projects dedicated to honouring the 10th anniversary of the Biennale, a focus on Lusophone lens-based practices, and a programme of workshops and panels.
Bisi Silva, Artistic Director
Antawan I. Byrd, Associate Curator (Publications and Special Projects)
Yves Chatap, Associate Curator (Exhibitions and Special Projects)