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Golden Lion for Malick Sidibé

Golden Lion of the 52nd Venice Biennial 2007 for photographer Malick Sidibé from Mali.
May 2007

The Board of La Biennale di Venezia, presided over by Davide Croff, has accepted the proposal by Director Robert Storr to award the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 52nd International Art Exhibition (10th June – 21st November) to the artist Malick Sidibé (Soloba, Mali, 1936).

The Golden Lion will be awarded in Venice on Sunday, June 10th, first day of the Exhibition, during a brief ceremony at the Giardini della Biennale which will follow the official opening at 10,30 a.m.

Statement and recommendation by the Director of the 52nd International Art Exhibition

Photography has been perhaps the most widely and inventively used artistic medium in Africa in the post- colonial era, as a spate of recent exhibitions has clearly shown. As they have also demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt, no African artist has done more to enhance photography’s stature in the region, contribute to its history, enrich its image archive or increase our awareness of the textures and transformations of African culture in the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first than Malick Sidibé.

Operating primarily from a small studio on one of the busiest streets of central Bamako, the capital of Mali, Sidibé has been the signal portraitist of his city and nation and the intimate observer of the Malian musical scene. Like August Sander, the great German photographer, he has preserved the likenesses of countless individuals while in the process recording the face of the rapidly changing society they, as citizens, have collectively brought into being.

For the 52nd Biennale of 2007 Sidibé has joined forces with the organizers of the project “Les Africains Chantent Contre le SIDA” to take pictures of the contestants in a countrywide competition for singers and song writers who composed and performed works in Mali’s various languages designed to provide information about the disease, its prevention and its treatment. The unique presence of each of the contestants is the fruit of a collaboration between the subject and the photographer, a collaboration subtly guided by his unfailing tact and captured by his acute eye. At 72 Malick Sidibé is the undisputed master of his photographic generation. No artists anywhere is more deserving of the 2007 Biennale of Venice’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, and none more worthy of being the first African so honored.

Robert Storr

>> 52nd Venice Biennial 2007, Photo Tour
In-depth Photo Tour through the Biennial with images and information on 25 pavilions and exhibitions. Features works by 118 participants.

Venice Biennial
52nd International Art Exhibition
10 June - 21 Nov. 2007

La Biennale di Venezia

Ca' Giustinian
San Marco 1364/A
30124 Venezia

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On 14 April 2016, the Malian photographer died at the age of 80. Malick Sidibé was one of the most influential photographers of his time.
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