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Internationally renowned Bamako Encounters opens in Mali
Roger Anis, Shaabi Beaches, 2017.

BAMAKO.- Bamako Encounters, the historical and internationally renowned Biennale for Photography and Video Art on the African Continent, opened its 25th anniversary edition. The Biennale runs in Bamako, Mali from the 30th of November 2019 to the 31st of January 2020. Conceived by Artistic Director Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and a curatorial team comprised of Aziza Harmel, Astrid Sokona Lepoultier and Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, with artistic advisors Akinbode Akinbiyi, Seydou Camara and scenographer Cheick Diallo, this edition is an invitation to think about the artistic practice of photography as a stream of consciousness, as well as to consider photography beyond the tight corset of the photographic; the moment of a snapshot emanates from a flow of thoughts and associations reflecting the photographer’s inner voice, which is unavoidably and constantly in motion.

Titled Streams of Consciousness, after the eponymous 1977 record by Abdullah Ibrahim and Max Roach, the Biennale employs multiple overstandings of how such streams can be used as photographic tools. Tools that bridge the African continent with its various diasporas, in addition to conveying cultures and epistemologies. ‘Africa’ has, after all, long ceased to be a concept limited to the geographical space called Africa. Africa as a planetary concept relates to people of African origin, the I & I, that are spread over the world in Asia, Oceania, Europe, the Americas and the African continent.

The exhibition applies the notion of streams of consciousness as a metaphor for the flux of ideas, peoples, cultures that flow across and with rivers like the Niger, Congo, Nile or Mississippi. This edition of the Biennale listens carefully to remoteness, and invisible matters, hitherto erased voices and images, and celebrates politics and poetics of (in)animate ecosystems. It expands on the role of collectives in African photographic practices, and the possibility of collectively telling our own stories through images, arguing for the fact that in society we are not individuals, but dividuals: divisible entities that together make up a larger collective. In an effort to go beyond the frame of photography as a visual experience, this Biennale engages with the textuality, the tangibility, the performativity and above all the sonicity of photography. The sonic properties of photography are envisioned as streams of consciousness wherein the photographic and phonographic intersect. How can we understand the lyricism of the photographic in that space of cognitive flux? The stream in streams of consciousness is a spectrum that encompasses the conscious and unconscious and forms a space in which the notions of consciousness and unconsciousness collapse into each other.

An exhibition told in four verses
Roughly eighty five artists from all over the African continent and diasporas showcase their contributions.

Four chapters have arisen from the artist selection, each of which takes the beholder on their own distinct stream of consciousness narrative. The chapters are named after verses taken from a poem featured in the prelude of The Dilemma of a Ghost, a play written by Ama Ata Aidoo.

The Sudden Scampering In The Undergrowth
On Presence of the Invisible, the Remote, and other Ghostly Matters

For The Mouth Must Not Tell Everything
On Politics and Poetics of Ecosystems

We Came From Left, We Came From Right
On Displacement, Errantry and Diasporas

The Twig Shall Not Pierce Our Eyes
On the Possibility of Hope and the Future as Promise

List of participating artists of Streams of Consciousness
Ibrahim Ahmed (Egypt/USA), Nirveda Alleck (Mauritius), Emmanuelle Andrianjafy (Madagascar), Roger Anis (Egypt), Yannick Anton (Canada), Afrane Akwasi Bediako (Ghana), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Cameroon), Jodi Bieber (South Africa), Milena Scherezade Carranza Valcárcel (Peru), Cédrick-Isham (France), Nidhal Chamekh (Tunisia), Amsatou Diallo (Mali), Moustapha Diallo (Mali), Dickonet (Mali), Adji Fatou Amdy Dieye (Italy/Senegal), Fakhri El Ghezal (Tunisia), Badr El Hammami (Morocco), Yagazie Emezi (Nigeria), Theo Eshetu (Ethiopia/Italy/ The Netherlands/ United Kingdom), Fototala King Massassy (Mali), Abrie Fourie (South Africa), Rahima Gambo (Nigeria), Eric Gyamfi (Ghana), Yasmine Hajji (France), Halima Haruna (Nigeria), Fanyana Hlabangane (South Africa), Renée Holleman (South Africa), Adama Jalloh (United Kingdom/Sierra Leone), Maxime Jean-Baptiste (France), Amina Ayman Kadous (Egypt), Mansour Ciss Kanakassy (Senegal), Mouna Karray (Tunisia), Godelive Kabena Kasangati (DR Congo), Bouchra Khalili (France/Morocco), Nicène Kossentini (Tunisia), Kitso Lynn Lelliott (Botswana/South Africa), Keli Safia Maksud (Kenya/Tanzania), Harun Morrison & Helen Walker (United Kingdom), Santiago Mostyn (Sweden/Trinidad/Zimbabwe), Khalil Nemmaoui (Morocco), Yvon Ngassam (Cameroon), Antoine Ngolke-do’o (Cameroon), Christian Nyampeta (The Netherlands/Rwanda), Abraham Oghobase (Nigeria), Adeola Olagunju (Nigeria), Léonard Pongo (Belgium), Nader Mohamed Saadallah (Egypt), Amadou Diadié Samassékou (Mali), Mara Sanchez Renero (Mexico), Ketaki Sheth (India), Buhlebezwe Siwani (South Africa), Selasi Awusi Sosu (Ghana), Mohamed Thara (Morocco), Dustine Thierry (Curaçao/The Netherlands), Bouba Touré (France/Mali), Hamden Traoré (Mali), Andrew Tshabangu (South Africa), Guy Woueté (Cameroon)

Association des Femmes Photographes du Mali (AFPM) (Mali), Collectif Orchestre vide (France), Collective 220 (Algeria), Iliso Labantu Photography Collective (South Africa), Invisible Borders (Trans-Africa), Kamoinge (USA/Pan-Africa), Kolektif 2 Dimansyon (K2D) (Haiti), MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora (Pan-Africa), The Otholith Group (Ghana/India/United Kingdom)

Solid Rocks
Felicia Abban (Ghana), Akinbode Akinbiyi (Nigeria), Jihan El Tahri (Egypt), Armet Francis (Jamaica), Liz Johnson Artur (United Kingdom), Deborah Lewis (USA), Eustaquio Neves (Brazil)

Special Projects
Do you hear me calling? (video installation by Theaster Gates, USA), Musow Ka Touma Sera (curated by Fatima Bocoum, Mali), Dja Tigui: L’hote de Mon Ombre (curated by Nakhana Diakite Prats, France/Senegal), The Works of Tolu Odukoya 1945-2015 (curated by Uche James Iroha, Nigeria), Legends of the Casbah (curated by Riason Naidoo, South Africa), À l'Est de Bamako (curated by Françoise Huguier, France), Five Photographers: A tribute to David Goldblatt (curated by John Fleetwood, South Africa)

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