Bamako Encounters Presentation
Founded in 1994, the Rencontres de Bamako are co-produced by the Malian Ministry of Culture and the Institut français. The first and main event devoted to African photography and images, in just over 20 years the Biennale has become a standard for excellence on the international contemporary art scene.
It has accompanied several generations of artists. Naturally this includes emblematic figures such as Malick Sidib., the first African artist to receive the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale (2007), Pieter Hugo and Samuel Fosso but also more recently Baudouin Mounda, Kiripi Katembo, Ismaïl Bahri and Omar Victor Diop, as well as the talented Zanele Muholi, Mimi Cherono, Kitso Eliott and Lebohang Kganye, to name but a few.
Today, numerous events celebrate Africa, and the Rencontres de Bamako contributes to this recognition. They are a medium for promoting the work of artists selected to exhibit at the Biennale through international exposure of the Pan-African exhibitions, and thanks to the introduction of innovative partnerships with schools, art galleries and major art institutions.
This was the case with Paris Photo, which in 2011 devoted part of its programme to young African photographers selected for the Pan-African exhibition at the Rencontres de Bamako.
The Biennale de Bamako is a career accelerator and has also contributed to the rapid expansion of photography in Mali with the creation of institutions such as the Maison africaine de la photographie in 2004, and by shining a spotlight on the National Museum of Mali, an internationally recognised organisation led by Samuel Sidib., General Delegate of the Biennale since 2009. This year once again it offers an opportunity for a partnership between the Le Fresnoy – National Studio of Contemporary Arts school in France and the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimedia (CAMM) in Bamako in the form of a two-year scholarship awarded to a Malian student. A seminal event for African photography, the Rencontres de Bamako are a benchmark for numerous festivals created across the African continent, some of which are run by artists who have exhibited at Bamako.
The Biennale is also an exemplary economic model promoting balanced collaboration between the Malian Ministry of Culture and the Institut français, open to public-private partnerships with art galleries, businesses and museums for organising large-scale exhibitions that celebrate African history of art.
Lastly, led by curators with engaged aesthetic values – Fran.oise Huguier and Bernard Descamps, Simon Njami, Laura Sérani and Michket Krifa, Bisi Silva and this year Marie-Ann Yemsi – the Rencontres de Bamako are also a visual representation of authors and critical and aesthetic thinking that are making Africa once more a focus for reflection. The title and themes of this 11th edition, Afrotopia , bear witness to this.