The Eye of Modern Mali offers a unique glimpse into 1960s African youth culture

© Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Malick Sidibé: The Eye of Modern Mali is the first major solo exhibition in the UK of the late Malian photographer. Taking place at Somerset House from 6 October 2016, the show will display his acclaimed black-and-white images chronicling the lives and culture of the Malian capital, Bamako, in the wake of the country’s independence.

Curated by André Magnin and Philippe Boutté, the exhibition will showcase 45 original prints from the 1960s and 1970s around three defined themes: ‘Au Fleuve Niger / Beside the Niger River’, ‘Tiep à Bamako / Nightlife in Bamako’, and ‘Le Studio / The Studio’.

With the arrival of rock ‘n’ roll, cutting-edge fashions, and independence in 1960, his images capture the essence of joie de vivre – the energy and exuberance of young, newly independent Africans, experiencing an era of significant social and cultural change.

Dansez le Twist, 1965 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Dansez le Twist, 1965 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

A la plage, 1974 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

A la plage, 1974 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Combat des amis avec pierres, 1976 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Combat des amis avec pierres, 1976 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Sidibé once said “music freed us”. Accompanying the photographs, the gallery soundtrack will recreate the spirit and soul of the nightclubs where he shot and his own Studio Malick, where “often it was like a party”. Curated by DJ, presenter and African music expert Rita Ray, it will feature an eclectic mix of music and urban sounds to which Sidibé’s photographic subjects may have listened, from the familiar rock ‘n’ roll, pop songs and fusions of the continent in the 60s and 70s to timeless Malian roots music.

A moi seul, 1978 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

A moi seul, 1978 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Les Retrouvailles au bord du fleuve Niger, 1974 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Les Retrouvailles au bord du fleuve Niger, 1974 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Nuit du 31 Décembre, 1969 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Nuit du 31 Décembre, 1969 - © Malick Sidibé | Courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris

Inspired by the exhibition, a pop-up shop will open in the Courtyard Rooms from 4 November, with a collection of one-off, unusual and hard-to-find wares, sourced in or influenced by Mali and Africa. Compiled by Somerset House and Darkroom, it will include vintage vinyl, contemporary and vintage decorative jewellery, printed and woven bags, scarves and cushions, plus posters, books and stationery.

The exhibition will launch at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair and continue as a standalone show throughout Somerset House’s winter season. Discover more at www.somersethouse.org.uk.

Via direct submission