Hood Quarterly, winter 2004
Since the 1960s, Malick Sidibé (born 1935) has photographed the making of modern Mali in the streets, nightclubs, and photo studios of Bamako. In his early work, Sidibé captured snapshot images of young Malians rejoicing in their newly created, Western-influenced cultural identities during the post-independence era. In more recent years, however, Sidibé has turned to the staged setting of a photo studio, shifting his role from a documentarian to an artist.
In the Hood’s recent acquisition Vues de Dos (2002), Sidibé reworks the Western imagined icon of African womanhood—the image of the seductive reclining nude—which he presents in this vertically cropped photograph of a partially dressed Malian woman, posing with her back to the viewer. In this image, the photographer intentionally obscures the model’s identity, mood, and expression, leaving viewers to their own assumptions and interpretations.