Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles

Bamako was marvelous. Mali had achieved its independence. Some of the most original modern African music was being created, there was a progressive government in power with strong links to Cuba and photographers like Malick Sidibe were capturing it all on film.But of course, its not so simple.
Karen Biswells subtle evocation of the remains of this fervent period in Malian history, the 1960s, does not make direct claims about the past- she reminds us of how Mali was stripping away layers of colonialism and finding its own marvelous identity. All this came crashing down with the military coup in 1968.
Music is the lost thread that Karen Biswell weaves throughout her images. Even though photographs are silent witnesses, they are also bridges that look at the present through a vision of the past, thus joining both past and present in her images. The focus of attention is geared towards one musical group in particular, Les Merveilles du Mali, whose tracks Karen went after while spending her days in Bamako. She is superb when capturing the ruins or remains, the ghosts of this time. Her photographs are a catalogue of both the unexpected and the limits of change and a reminder that certain ghosts will always remain. There is an unconscious pattern of narration in her approach, resembling that of a shaman, she seems to transform into the various spirit animals that inhabit the landscape, allowing us to see the true spirit of a place.
It began in 2010 when she traveled for the first time to Bamako on the 50th anniversary of Malian independence to make portraits of the surviving members of the group and to find evidence and traces of their past dazzling existence. What she discovers is the absolute authenticity of the image before her. The atmosphere created by her seemingly anachronistic images are dexterously elaborated, nostalgic, never sweet nor sentimental, demonstrating a talismanic and powerful magic.

Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles

Bamako was marvelous. Mali had achieved its independence. Some of the most original modern African music was being created, there was a progressive government in power with strong links to Cuba and photographers like Malick Sidibe were capturing it all on film.But of course, its not so simple.
Karen Biswells subtle evocation of the remains of this fervent period in Malian history, the 1960s, does not make direct claims about the past- she reminds us of how Mali was stripping away layers of colonialism and finding its own marvelous identity. All this came crashing down with the military coup in 1968.
Music is the lost thread that Karen Biswell weaves throughout her images. Even though photographs are silent witnesses, they are also bridges that look at the present through a vision of the past, thus joining both past and present in her images. The focus of attention is geared towards one musical group in particular, Les Merveilles du Mali, whose tracks Karen went after while spending her days in Bamako. She is superb when capturing the ruins or remains, the ghosts of this time. Her photographs are a catalogue of both the unexpected and the limits of change and a reminder that certain ghosts will always remain. There is an unconscious pattern of narration in her approach, resembling that of a shaman, she seems to transform into the various spirit animals that inhabit the landscape, allowing us to see the true spirit of a place.
It began in 2010 when she traveled for the first time to Bamako on the 50th anniversary of Malian independence to make portraits of the surviving members of the group and to find evidence and traces of their past dazzling existence. What she discovers is the absolute authenticity of the image before her. The atmosphere created by her seemingly anachronistic images are dexterously elaborated, nostalgic, never sweet nor sentimental, demonstrating a talismanic and powerful magic.

Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell
Bamako, Rivers of Crocodiles by Karen Paulina Biswell