LIGHT AND SOUL - Photos of Malika Diagana from Senegal
Urban Life in Dakar

From December 3 until December 20, 2020 in the Photobastei Zurich.
Opening on December 3 at 18.00 in the presence of the photographer

Photographers from the West African counties Senegal and Mali have been getting attention from the western art world since the 1990s. In particular in the cities of Dakar and Bamako, a lively scene involving its own image traditions and aesthetics has developed alongside the genres of street and studio photography. Other forms of documentary photography also play important roles in society, for example, as a means of transmitting information to illiterate segments of the population, but also in passing on traditions and stories.
The most important African art shows take place every two years in Bamako and Dakar: the DAk’Art and the Rencontres de Bamako, Biennale africaine de la photographie.

Malika Diagana: “Photographier, c’est écrire en lumière.”
The photographer from Mauritania and Dakar is one such photographer whose imagery is completely unique and who is gaining more and more international attention.
Her black-and-white photographs depict life on the streets of Dakar and tell the stories of the people who live there: women shopping at the market, children playing, young men spray-painting graffiti beside the street.
In particular the portraits of women, with all of their nuances and shades of grey, have a timeless and enchantingly beautiful quality achieved via the photographer’s light play.

Malika Diagana was born in Mauritania in 1982, grew up in a multicultural family and has lived in Senegal since she finished school. She discovered photography while studying graphic design and video studies. This first contact motivated her to focus her attention in this direction. As a result of her ability to employ various techniques to “play with light”, she began a career in graphic design and devoted a portion of her time to photography. Meeting the photographer Djibril Sy kindled her passion for black-and-white photography and encouraged her to pursue this interest. Another person who has had a large influence on her work is her uncle Julien Lopez, who was one of the first photographers to have his own studio in Saint-Louis, Senegal in the 1960s and to make a living from it.
For Malika Diagana photography provides the possibility of representing her perspectives and points of view, telling a multitude of stories and preserving snapshots of the present for future generations.
The photographer is currently in the process of establishing a photo studio in Dakar while setting up a photography training program especially for women in Mauritania. She hopes to find sufficient sponsors to fund the program in the coming year.

Malika Diagana exhibited her work at the 2015 Rencontres de Bamako and was invited to participate in the 2018 Lagos Photo Festival. Her photos have been exhibited in Germany and France and published in newspapers and magazines. More information is available on her website