Bamako Encounters – African Biennale of Photography postponed to 2022

13th Bamako Encounters

Due to a strong demand from artists for an extension of the application period as well as the socio-political and health-related conditions we are currently facing globally, this year’s edition of the Bamako Encounters – African Biennale of Photography will be postponed to 2022. The health and wellbeing of our artists, team and visitors is an absolute priority for the biennale and informs this tough, but necessary decision. Titled Maa ka Maaya ka ca a yere kono — On Multiplicity, Difference, Becoming, and Heritage, the 13th edition of Bamako Encounters will now take place from October 20, 2022 to December 20, 2022, at various venues in Bamako, Mali.

Collaboratively conceived by General Director Cheick Diallo, Artistic Director Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, and the curatorial team—Akinbode Akinbiyi (artist and independent curator), Meriem Berrada (Artistic Director, MACAAL, Marrakech), Tandazani Dhlakama (Assistant Curator, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town), and Liz Ikiriko (artist and Curator of Collections and Contemporary Engagement at Art Gallery of York University, Toronto)—this edition of the biennale will once again facilitate a moment of encounter for artists from the African world.

The Bamako Encounters will 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.”

We warmly invite you to read more about the concept of the upcoming Bamako Encounters here.

Open call and artist list

This edition of the 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.

We invited artists to reflect on such processes of becoming, multiplicities, layered and fragmented identities, vibrant understandings of heritage/patrimony, storytelling, and difference(s). An open call was held to artists from the African world, amateur and professional photographers and video artists, both alone and in groups, without age or nationality limits.

The selected artists will be notified by email during the month of October 2021. Their participation will be announced to the public in November 2021, when the full artist list is communicated.

Special projects

In addition to the main exhibition, the Bamako Encounters features a rich public program and film program. Several thematic exhibitions will also be on view during the biennale’s run, aimed at presenting African and diasporic artists who have made, and continue to make significant and distinctly intersectional contributions, that profoundly affect us and our visual world. These include extensive retrospectives on the work of Maria Magdalena Campos PonsSamuel FossoJoy GregoryJo Ractcliffe and Daoud Aoulad Syad. Additionally, there will be a presentation of selected works of Promo-Femmes, an association of women photographers in Mali that trained and mentored generations of women photographers.

About Bamako Encounters

Founded in 1994, the biennale is organized by the Ministry of Culture of Mali and the association Rencontres des Arts with the support of the Institut Français. Since its inception, the biennale has been the first and main international event dedicated to African photography and video on the continent, and remains an essential event for contemporary art worldwide.