New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 20 May 30 to June 5, 2012

Fashion Diaspora
Malick Sidibe
Malick Sidibé Solo Show!
Ed Barnas
 by Malick Sidibe. Source: usa.agnesb.com
Malick Sidibe

SoHo is home to many boutiques and galleries but agnes b. has combined the two in her establishment on Howard Street. It is not her first excursion into the art world: galerie du jour has been in Paris since 1984 and the periodical le point d’ironie followed in the late 90’s. Though her latest space on Howard Street has a gallery space to the left of the entrance, the artwork for the current exhibit spreads out over all the walls of the boutique area.

Her current show is devoted to Malick Sidibé, best known for both documentary and studio work in his native Mali. With over sixty images on display, dating from 1960 to 1980, it is a good introduction to his work. The photographs offer a fascinating look at the people and the time, particularly how Western influences in fashion migrate through other cultures over time. There is a certain innocence in these images, enhanced perhaps by black & white, and taken with an on-camera flash. In the family albums of my age-peers I have seen similar photos of couples posing happily, or in party mode, or showing off priced possessions (Avec ma Vespa).

The earlier photos of people dressed to go out, with many of the young men in suits, remind me more of the 50s and early 60s in the West before the so-called youth revolution of the late 60s raised casualness into an anti-style. While there are a number of casually dressed people in the photos, I did not see evidence of the deliberate sloppiness adopted by some segments of youth culture in the West at the same time. In Mali it appears as if they moved smoothly into the flares, wide ties and bigger Afros of the 70s. While the men shift from close-cropped hair and suits with straight-legged slacks to Afros, flared slacks and wide ties, the women generally seem to be more conservative in adopting Western styles.

 by Malick Sidibe. Source: usa.agnesb.com
Malick Sidibe

A majority of the images are unique vintage prints, many small (some just 2 x 3-1/4 in.) but a few as large as 11 x 15. Some of the vintage prints are slightly yellow with age while others appear in more pristine condition; all of them have the scalloped edges so typical of photo processors of that period. Especially interesting are two framed “contact sheets” – actually individual contact prints mounted on paper as proof sheets. Modern prints are on display as well. Most of these are 5x7 with a few as large as 20 x 24 and 47x47 with many noted as “unlimited” prints and available in open editions in differing sizes.

Malick Sidibe
Malick Sidibé Solo Show!


agnès b
50 Howard St.
Lower Manhattan - West         Map

212 431 1335
usa.agnesb.com

Saturday, April 14 to
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Hours: Mon-Sat 11 to 7; Sun 12 to 6
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