Born in 1935, in the small village of Soloba, Sidibé stood out quickly
because of his talent for drawing. His tutors encouraged him to enlist in
the School for Sudanese Arts in Bamako. He graduated in Jewellery and
Design but started his career in a totally different field: he became an apprenticeship at the Photo Service Boutique, owned by the Frenchman Gérard Guillat-Guignard. Three years later, he opened his own “Studio
Malick”, which he ran until the end of his life. Where Seydou Keïta photographed people in his
small studio, Sidibé became the father of the streets of Mali. He is
also one of the only reporters to have covered all of the news of that
In the sixties and seventies he focussed solely on the
local youth. Caught in surprise snapshots, or posing leisurely, these
youngsters drag him along on their numerous wanderings. To sports
events, relaxing on the beach, a fight in the nightclub Happy Boys or
the Surf Club, out to a concert or seducing girls.
Sidibé's images emanate so much power, it is because beyond the
convivial and careless atmosphere, he also illustrates the difficulty of
having to adapt to life in the city. The confrontation with unemployment
and alcohol, the irresistible desire to be like young whites. The
pictures reflect the artist: convivial, intimate and yet not
voyeuristic. They tell of a great complicity between the artist and his
subjects. Like that other photographer, Keïta, Sidibé too has had to wait
until the nineties to get recognition outside of his own country.
Sidibe got the Hasselblad Award, the golden Lion at the Venice Biennale
and lately the ICP award for lifetime achievement.