Embodying Relation Art Photography in Mali

Allison Moore

In Embodying Relation Allison Moore examines the tensions between the local and the global in the art photography movement in Bamako, Mali, which blossomed in the 1990s after Malian photographers Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé became internationally famous and the Bamako Photography Biennale was founded. Moore traces the trajectory of Malian photography from the 1880s—when photography first arrived as an apparatus of French colonialism—to the first African studio practitioners of the 1930s and the establishment in 1994 of the Bamako Biennale, Africa's most important continent-wide photographic exhibition. In her detailed discussion of Bamakois artistic aesthetics and institutions, Moore examines the post-fame careers of Keïta and Sidibé, the Biennale's structure, the rise of women photographers, cultural preservation through photography, and how Mali's shift to democracy in the early 1990s enabled Bamako's art scene to flourish. Moore shows how Malian photographers' focus on cultural exchange, affective connections with different publics, and merging of traditional cultural precepts with modern notions of art embody Caribbean philosopher and poet Édouard Glissant's notion of “relation” in ways that spark new artistic forms, practices, and communities.

Moore cover


  • $28.95 paper, 9781478006626
  • $104.95 cloth, 9781478005971
  • $28.95 ebook
  • 376 pages
  • 102 illus., 6 x 9

about the author

Allison Moore is an assistant professor of art history at the University of South Florida. She specializes in contemporary African art and photography, exploring intersections of the global and the local and addressing postcolonial, feminist, and aesthetic theories. Her writing has appeared in “Afterimage,” “African Arts,” “Artforum,” “caa.reviews”, “Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art and Visual Culture,” “’Even, History of Photography”, and “Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies,” as well as various exhibition catalogs. She co-curated the exhibition “Photographing the Social Body: Malian Portraiture from the Studio to the Street” at the Perlman Teaching Museum at Carleton College in 2012, which traveled to Bamako’s Maison Africaine de la Photographie in 2015. Previously, Moore worked on the exhibition “Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography” at the International Center of Photography in New York. She was also a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, co-curating the exhibition “Social Capital: Forms of Interaction.”

Prior to coming to USF, Moore taught at the University of New Mexico, the University of Vermont, and Savannah College of Art & Design. She teaches the survey course in contemporary art as well as seminars on contemporary African art and photography, critical perspectives in contemporary art, and the history and theory of photography.