MARIANE IBRAHIM TOPPLES AFRICAN ART CLICHES WITH HER EPONYMOUS GALLERY

Janelle Zara, Cultured

The work of late Malian photographer Malick Sidibé was a first for Somali-French gallerist Mariane Ibrahim. Until then, all of the African art she had seen in museums had been put in a kind of anthropological display, she says, as if European curators were looking at the continent with a “telescope and white gloves.” Sidibé, however, had captured something she hadn’t seen in a museum before: an intimate portrait of a living Africa, where the streets and nightlife of post- independence Bamako in the 1960s and ’70s were electrified by the city’s youth culture.

“You’re used to seeing some sort of traditional craft from Africa labeled anonymous and not recognizing yourself in it,” Ibrahim recounts over the phone, but Sidibé’s work had sparked what she describes as “an instant connection.” He got her thinking. “Surely,” she told herself, “there must be more connectors.”

 

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