Founded in 1994, the Rencontres de Bamako – African Photography Biennale – is organized by the Ministry of Culture of Mali with the support of the Institut Français. The Biennale is the first and principal event dedicated to contemporary photography and new imagery in Africa. Internationally renowned, the Rencontres de Bamako is a platform for discoveries, exchanges, and visibility. It is an essential venue for the revelation of African photographers and those of the Diaspora, a time of exchange with the Malian public and the professionals from around the world.
Cheick Diallo, designer, founder of Diallo Design and president of the Association of African Designers (ADA), is the General Delegate of the Rencontres de Bamako.
Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, independent curator and founder of SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin, Germany), is the curator of the 2021 edition entitled Maa ka Maaya ka ca a yere ono – On Multiplicity, Difference, Becoming and Heritage.
The 13th edition will be held from November 20, 2021 to January 20, 2022.
For the 13th edition of the Bamako Encounters – African Biennale of Photography, on view at various venues in Bamako, Mali from 20 November 2021–20 January 2022, the overarching focus lies On Multiplicity, Difference, Becoming, and Heritage.
The dominant narrative in this ‘globalized world’ is, incidentally, that of singularity–of universalism, of single identities, of singular cultures, of insular political systems. With this narrative, however, comes an illusory sense of stability and stasis; identities seem inalterable, cultures are immutable, political systems prove uneasy in the face of change. Thus, in sustaining this pervasive discourse, there has been a great loss of multiplicity, of fragmentation, of process and change, and not least of complex notions of humanity and equally complex narratives.
In de-centering this year’s Biennale On Multiplicity, Difference, Becoming, and Heritage, General Director Cheick Diallo, Artistic Director Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, and the curatorial team — Akinbode Akinbiyi (artist and independent curator), Meriem Berrada (artistic director of MACAAL, Marrakech), Tandazani Dhlakama (assistant curator Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town), and Liz Ikiriko (artist, assistant curator Art Gallery York University) — of the Bamako Encounters pay a powerful tribute to the spaces in between, to that which defies definition, to phases of transition, to being this and that or neither and both, to becoming, and to difference and divergence in all their shades. Accordingly, Amadou Hampâté Bâ’s statement (Aspects de la civilisation africaine. Éditions Présence Africaine. 1972) presiding over the manifestation, Maa ka Maaya ka ca a yere kono, translates to, “The persons of the person are multiple in the person.”
A key tool for negotiating the processual and shifting nature of multiplicity lies in storytelling. It is the central medium through which humanity points the lens on itself and launches an attempt at self-understanding and reflection, and the breadth of answers given throughout history testifies to the congenial nature of storytelling and multiplicity. Moreover, the stories we tell not only negotiate who we are but also expose underlying currents of who we will become in the future. This is the concern lying at the heart of the 13th edition of the Bamako Encounters–the stories we tell, the multiple facets of humanity we accommodate, notions of processuality, Becoming in Being, embracing identities that are layered, fragmented, and divergent, and the multifarious ways of being in the world, whether enacted or imagined. It should be emphasized that this does not apply only to questions of personal identity. On the contrary, it is a bold affirmation of transformation and transition, of becoming in an emphatic sense, and is thus equally significant for state politics. It also rings true for questions of heritage/patrimony. Embracing the kaleidoscopic legacy of our multiple heritages means to open them up and liberate the term from its etymological roots (the Latin patrimonium means “the heritage of the father”), imagining in its place an inclusive concept of matrimony.
Thus, in this 13th edition of the Bamako Encounters with the title Maa ka Maaya ka ca a yere kono, artists, curators, scholars, activists, and people of all walks of life are invited to reflect collectively on these multiplicities of being and differences, on expanding beyond the notion of a single being, and on embracing compound, layered and fragmented identities as much as layered, complex, non-linear understandings of space(s) and time(s).
Maa ka Maaya ka ca a yere kono
The central theme of this year’s Bamako Encounters zeroes in on questions of multiplicity, processuality, transition, becoming, heritage, and difference. In arguing that present discussions of singularity tend to ossify notions of identity, culture, and politics, the curatorial team launches a powerful affirmation of that which is in between and beyond the traditional boundaries of such categories. As the main title suggests, Maa ka Maaya ka ca a yere kono: The persons of the person are multiple in the person.
We invite artists to reflect on such processes of becoming, multiplicities, layered and fragmented identities, vibrant understandings of heritage/patrimony, storytelling, and difference(s).
The 13th edition of Rencontres de Bamako/Biennale Africaine de la Photographie will be held from November 20, 2021 to January 20, 2022. in Bamako, Mali. This call is open to artists from the African world,amateur and professional photographers and video artists, alone or in groups, without age or nationality limit.
• Application fee
There is no application fee.
• Application Deadline
Applications may be submitted until Wednesday Juin 12, 2021, at 00:00 U.S. time.
• Submission procedure
Applications can only be made online on the internet platform of the Rencontres de Bamako (Access the application form).
• The application must include:
1. The completed application form.
2. A detailed curriculum vitae (max. 2 pages).
3. A portrait of the artist and a high-resolution ID photo.
4. A scanned copy of the current passport until 2022.
A note of intent presenting the series and/or the video works, in French or English, in PDF format of 5 pages maximum, containing a clear and concise description of the proposal.
In the case of a specific installation, please include images that allow us to visualize or imagine the proposed project.
5. Candidates’ portfolio with biography.
6. Five high-resolution images (300 dpi for 30 × 50 cm) of recent works (property of the artist), with their technical file (name of the artist, title, date of creation, medium, dimensions, value of the work and of the insurance, addresses of the places of origin and delivery).
7. A folder (zip format) containing the video files (5 max.) of a maximum volume of 2 GB, in h264 and doing between 30 and 50 FPS with a minimum resolution of 3k.
You can present several series and apply in both fields (photography/video).
Naming of the files: name_firstname_title_series.
Send your files (photos or videos) in a single zip folder. File name: Last_Name.zip.
The photographers attest and guarantee that the works presented are original creations within the meaning of the law on intellectual property and that they do not constitute the counterfeiting of protected works. They are entirely responsible for their photographic and/or videographic works presented.
Only submissions that respect these conditions will be considered.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org (at least 5 days before the closing date of the call).
25 artists will be selected. The projects will be assessed on the basis of their quality and artistic relevance.
The selection of the artists will be given by email during the month of June 2021 and put online on our website.
The selection committee, chaired by Bonaventure Ndikung, Artistic Director, is composed of the associate curators and artistic advisors of the Biennale. Their decision will be sovereign and without appeal.
Registration to the present call for applications is free.
The selected artists are invited during the professional days, which take place during the first week of the Biennial, during which many meetings and discussions take place.
Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (born in 1977 in Yaoundé, Cameroon), is an independent curator, author and biotechnologist. He is founder and artistic director of SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin and the artistic director of sonsbeek20–24, a quadrennial contemporary art exhibition in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Ndikung was the curator-at-large for Documenta 14 in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany in 2017; a guest curator of the Dak’Art biennale in Dakar, Senegal, in …
Liz Ikiriko is a Tkaronto/Toronto-based, Nigerian Canadian artist and curator. Her role as an educator, maker, and mother informs her practice, which focuses on African and diasporic narratives. Through collaboration and research, she supports and creates embodied experiences to facilitate moments of vulnerability and care for her communities. Her projects and curiosities engage, question and confront internalized systems of oppression. Ikiriko holds an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice from …
Tandazani Dhlakama is an assistant curator at Zeitz MOCAA. Prior joining Zeitz MOCAA, she worked at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) in Harare where she held various roles between 2011 and 2017. In 2017 she was the conference coordinator for the 2nd International Conference on African Cultures (ICAC 2017) which took place in Harare. She recently curated Witness: Afro Perspectives from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection at El Espacio 23 …
Artistic Director of the Al Maaden Museum of Contemporary African Art (MACAAL) and Director of Cultural Projects at the Alliances Foundation, Meriem Berrada designs and implements the various artistic projects of Fondation Alliances since 2012. In 2013, she created, La Chambre Claire a photo contest dedicated to promoting African emerging photography and in 2014, the Passerelles program, a cross-sponsorship initiative that coordinates the cultural and social poles of Fondation Alliances …
Born in Oxford, England of Nigerian parents, Akinbode Akinbiyi has been a freelance photographer since 1977, a curator and writer based in Berlin. His primary photographic focus is large, sprawling megacities. Wandering and meandering the highways and byways in an attempt to understand and deeply engage with the modern metropolis. He walks and works primarily in and on the four major African cities Lagos, Cairo, Kinshasa and Johannesburg, but also …