Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Memories of Malick

Malick Sidibé’s death has passed me by almost unnoticed  in the shadow of Keita’s demise. But today a friend shared with me the TIMES obituary of him, and I remembered with fondness the gentle and modest photographer whom we commissioned to come to Djenné and take pictures of Hotel Djenné Djenno in 2007.  He was of course already a  famous photographer  by then and had just won the life time award to Photography at the Venice Biennale.  Nevertheless, in order to commission him  I had to first go and find him in the crowded popular neighbourhood of Bagadadji in Bamako where he sat outside his unassuming studio shaving with the help of a cracked mirror. ‘Oh yes’, he agreed, he would come to Djenné to take pictures of my hotel. I like Swedish people’ he said. ‘The Swedes gave me a Hasselblad Camera.’  And indeed so they did in 2003, one of the first of many prizes and accolades he accumulated in the last decade  of  his long career.
I offered to fly him up with his son and assistant from Bamako to Mopti- this was in the days of a commercial air plane servicing this part of Mali- but no, that would not be necessary at all he said. ‘We will take the Bani bus’. And so they did. This is Malick boarding  the Bani bus: see blog August 20, 2007.

The couple of days that he stayed with us were punctuated with amusing and  interesting conversations: one I remember was about his four wives, or rather about polygamy. ‘Well’, said Malick with just a hint of mischief in his eye ‘ Wouldn’t it be just a little boring to wake up next to the same woman your whole life?’  I agreed that it might be so but I asked him if he didn’t think that his wives might feel the same about always waking up next to him? This he thought was extremely funny...
He took his pictures with his Hasselblad camera and they came out in Condé Nast Traveller and that was of course quite a scoop for us as a new hotel.

At this time he also did our portrait with Keita in traditional boubou.
 Keita and I popped in to see him in his studio sometimes when we were  passing in Bamako and he also took pictures of me in Malimali clothing.

I am so glad that we knew  him and so happy that  we were able to commission him: RIP Malick Sidibé.


Blogger David said...

Something we didn't discuss tonight - what wonderful photos of you and Keita with the great photographer, and I hadn't seen the fashion shot, either. Somehow this makes me wistfully happy rather than desperately sad. Good that he had the international recognition he deserved in his lifetime.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Tabor said...

One of the nice things about various blogs is I learn of people who had bright lights when they were on the earth. I would not know of this man except for your relationship to this side of the world.

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