About the artist
Photographer Sanlé Sory (BF, 1943) started his career as a photographer in 1960, the same year that his native Burkina Faso became independent from France and took the name Republic of Upper Volta.
About the artwork
Shown at Het HEM are a selection of photographs taken between 1969 and 1984, a period in which a progressive government had come into power, operating with greater independence from France. With regards to socioeconomic policy this was possibly one of the most radical governments ever within the African continent. There was an enormous boom and focus on local products, investments in local technology and a decrease in foreign imports. Sory captured this moment of blossoming and national consciousness. A striking element are the opulent set paintings used in his studio portraits, bringing humour and absurdism to his photographs.
Statement Edson Sabajo & Guillaume Schmidt
Guillaume: ‘A representation of black utopia. This is super beautiful. It triggers all sorts of ‘what if’ questions. What would Africa have looked like if colonialism had turned out differently? World history may seem a fixed thing, but there are different realities and the ones we live in are based on half-truths.’
Edson: ‘There’s a sense of optimism in these images – and that’s what we’re all about. Sometimes you need a catalyst to help bring your message across, with this kind of work that’s exactly what happens in this exhibition.’