Malick Sidibé (ML)

The Eye of Bamako

"©Malick Sidibé I Courtesy Gallery FIFTY ONE - NUIT DE NOËL (HAPPY CLUB)

Image: Malick Sidibé, Nuit de Noël, 1963. Courtesy Gallery FIFTY ONE, Antwerp.

Joy and independence in 1960s Mali.


01 March - 24 March


State Library Victoria Forecourt [i]
328 Swanston St, Melbourne
24 hrs


Social Futures


Wheelchair access



Legendary photographer Malick Sidibé captured the hopeful energy of his hometown of Bamako in the early years of Mali’s independence—a time when change was afoot and youth culture was flourishing.

Affectionately known as The Eye of Bamako, Sidibé had a professional photography studio for making portraits. Studio Malick produced formal and staged portraits that emanated such energy and spirit that they have become a way of seeing Malian culture of that time. Outside studio hours, Sidibé spent his nights travelling around town (often by bicycle), photographing dances and social clubs, translating the joy and social freedom of people shaking off the shackles of colonialism and mingling on the dance floor.

Malick Sidibé was a master at knowing when to frame a person so as to show us their essence. “It’s a world, someone’s face,” he said. “When I capture it, I see the future of the world.”

Curated by PHOTO Australia Supported by Creative Victoria and Michael and Emily Tong

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Founding Partners
  • Bowness Family Foundation
  • Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Major Government Partners
  • City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program
  • Creative Victoria
Major Partners
  • Maddocks

PHOTO Australia respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we work and live, and the rich and diverse Indigenous cultures across what is now called Australia. For over 60,000 years, Indigenous arts and culture have thrived on this sacred land, and we honour Elders and cultural leaders past and present. This was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

01–24 March