LONDON.- Sory Sanlé: Volta Photo 1965-85
is a collection of photographic work by Sory Sanlé, an eminent portrait photographer from Burkina Faso, the landlocked country in West Africa formerly colonised by the French, then known as Republique de Haute-Volta. Voltaic photographys unsung golden age is fully embodied by Sanlé. His black and white images magnify this era and display a unique cultural energy and social impact.
Sory Sanlé was born in 1943 in the Nianiagara district of Bobo-Dioulasso, the countrys cultural and socio-economic hub. He began his career in photography in 1960 the same year his country regained its independence. Working as an apprentice to a Ghanaian photographer, he learned to process and print the photographs he took with his Rolleiflex twin lens camera.
Sanlé began documenting the city on his motorbike, capturing its centuries-old traditions and evolving identity in the wake of African independence. He worked as a freelance reporter, on official assignments, and illustrating record sleeves, but his real passion was studio work.
In 1960 Sanlé opened his own portrait studio in Bobo-Dioulasso under the name, Volta Photo, where he photographed the citys inhabitants. He shot them with an original wit, energy and passion men, women, young, old, confident, vulnerable, elegant, carefree while capturing the natural fusion between tradition and modernity. His work conveys a youthful exuberance in the wake of the first decades of African independence. In many ways, Sanlés subjects also illustrate the remoteness and melancholy of African cities landlocked deep in the heart of the continent. The powerful poignancy with which Sanlé captured his subjects at this particular moment and place in time is what distinguishes him from his contemporaries.
Upon discovering Sory Sanlé, archivist Florent Mazzoleni, a French record producer and author, decided to [preserve the] great wealth of culture that was produced. Mazzoleni identified Sory as a democratic photographer in a good sense. Rich people, poor people, religious people, artists, musicians, everyone could become a hero at his Volta studio.
Until now Sanlés photographs have been held in private collections, but recently major museums from around the world have been taking considerable interest in him. The Fondation Cartier in Paris is showing four of Sanlés photographs in their Autophoto exhibition this summer, alongside work from William Eggleston, Man Ray, Lee Freidlander, Daido Moriyama, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, among others.
This stunning edition is the first book dedicated to Sory Sanlés photography and will be accompanied by Sanlés first international solo exhibition at Morton Hill Gallery, London. Sory Sanlé: Volta Photo 1965-85 will run at the Morton Hill Gallery in Ladbroke Grove, London from 14 September to 27 October 2017, with a private view to be held on 13 September.
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