Fatoumata Diabaté

Portrait of Fatoumata Diabaté

Born in 1980 in Mali, Fatoumata Diabaté has been invited to many festivals around the world and has won several awards. She takes part in the Rencontres photographiques de Bamako", the "La Gallicy" photo festival, the Rencontres d’Arles and the Biennale de Dakar. Her work is the subject of several group and individual exhibitions in Mali, France and internationally. In her youth, she was Malick Sidibé’s assistant and in 2013, she creates ‘Le Studio Photo de la Rue, a traveling photo studio which is invited by many cultural spaces and festivals, The Cartier Foundation in Paris in particular. She has been exhibited in various galleries, more recently the 31Project Gallery in South Africa. She has been named 2020 laureate of the Photographic Residences of Quai Branly Museum whose project has just been carried out in Mali and around excision. She divides her time between Montpellier in France and Bamako in Mali.


Man as an Object / Man as an Animal

The idea for this series is connected to the stories and tales I heard in my childhood and which still follow me everywhere today. These are stories designated for “the black child”, as Senghor put it. For these photographs, I am inspired by the stories that are in my head and then I create objects in the service of those stories. Ideas sometimes come to me at night, while I’m lying in my room. before falling asleep, I sometimes dream with my eyes open. I am looking, I am always groping a little. They are fairly simple portraits, which symbolize one aspect of a story. My use of objects as accessories or costumes for men also relates to the African masks, so well made, today preserved in museums. I leave this context of the traditional African mask, linked to specific customs and beliefs, to move towards something that is more of the order of waste. Often, I even ask the model to make this mask object himself. It has to be artisanal, it is very important. I, as a photographer, set up this device, in order to place the stories that I have heard behind masks, that the young people I photograph have tinkered with recovered things. These are stories I have never lived, these are stories I am told, stories like dreams. When we dream, we believe we are fully living something, and then when we wake up, we realize that it was not reality, and we no longer know what was deep and what was on the surface. So it’s a bit like that Man as an Object : these are stories like dreams, but they work as moral lessons, stories that teach us how to behave in life. Which helps us understand what lies ahead, what can happen. And also what is the link between man and object. It is through stories that one can learn to gain affections towards objects, animals, trees, nature, and more.