excerpt | malick sidibé

his photos have been prized on the international art market for years and adorn the walls of leading photo galleries across the world, but seventy six year old malick sidibé still resides in a one room home in mali so timeless that it feels as if the air within hasn't stirred in decades.

marked boxes - 1972, 1968, 1965 - containing much of malick's vast archive balance atop one another stretching to the ceiling. orphaned six by six frames dot on the floor. a large wooden crate bulges with ruined cameras in a tangled mass. occasionally the scorching air outside shifts, sending a breeze through the room that does nothing to dispel the overwhelming heat inside. on a good day, electricity powers a single bulb that barely illuminates the otherwise itch dark space. decades' worth of malian dust covers every surface.

malick is not surrounded by the material trappings one might expect a major contributor to the contemporary arts landscape to enjoy, or pursue, nor do i imagine he spends much time obsessing over his place in the photographic firmament. in this way he is, to my mind, the perfect artist.

in his home, light years from the art centers of the world, malick is, i trust, exactly where he wants to be in his life and in his career - the same neighbor to malians that he has always been, despite the fame that has gradually found him.


nga, j. (2014) time inc. essay on malick sidibé

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