Archive of Malian Photography – Cultural Heritage Preservation and Accessibility
The Archive of Malian Photography (AMP) provides access to preserved and digitized collections of five important photographers in Mali, West Africa. Funded by the British Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities, since 2011, our collaborative team of US and Malian conservators has cleaned, scanned, cataloged, and rehoused over 100,000 negatives from the archives of Mamadou Cissé, Adama Kouyaté, Abdourahmane Sakaly, Malick Sidibé, and Tijani Sitou for long-term preservation and access. Spanning the 1940s-90s, this collection reveals changes and continuities in political and cultural practices, social trends, and photographic production during and after the region’s transition from French colonialism to national independence, changing the way Westerners see and understand Africa/ns.
Although global interest in African photography has flourished over the past twenty years, access to photographers’ studio archives has been limited and published materials are minimal. Retained in private archives, most of these materials are not cataloged, properly preserved, or internationally accessible. Stored in harsh climactic conditions, the physical integrity of these collections have remained in serious jeopardy and, due to the high commercial value of these archives, these materials have been vulnerable to mistreatment and theft. AMP addresses these issues by safeguarding original materials in Mali from further damage and theft and promoting their global accessibility to research and education in the form of low-resolution digital collections online (amp.matrix.msu.edu) and at the Maison Africaine de la Photographie in Bamako.
In 2018, we seek to add two additional significant studio archives, along with those housed in the national press (dating back to 1948), which contain historically, politically, culturally significant records that are not well catalogued, preserved, or accessible. In addition, we hope to partner with curators at in Houston and New York City to develop a substantial catalog publication and exhibition that would open concurrently in at least four institutions in the US, France, and Mali in 2020, using interactive digital technology to allow visitors to engage in dialog, raise questions, and share experiences.
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For more information please download the Archive of Malian Photography brochure.