For the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure to be involved in the collaborative photography exhibition Money in Bamako and London. This is the second in a series of projects begun last year by curator Sophie Mew, in which two photographers, one from London and one from Bamako, come together to explore a range of themes in everyday contexts in each city. The exhibitions travel to both capitals, developing cultural exchange between the UK and Mali and offering glimpses of local life to museum-goers in both places.
For the first edition in 2011, Malian photographer Alioune Bâ and UK photographer Diane Patrice examined parallels between London and Bamako. Their images and stories of taxi drivers, football matches and tea-drinking showed that although in many ways the cities are very different, day-to-day activities for Londoners and Bamakois can be surprisingly similar.
In 2012, however, the project sadly finds itself in a rather different situation: in the light of the crisis in Mali following the recent coup d’état, and the ongoing political upheavals, what can artistic exchange projects offer? After much deliberation, Bamako & London has decided to go ahead for a second year, responding to the situation by offering a platform for ongoing exchange at a time of economic instability for inhabitants of both cities. Diane Patrice is this time joined by Bamako photographer Harandane Dicko to explore the theme of ‘Money’, coinciding with the opening of the new Money Gallery at the British Museum.
As Sophie explained, consultation with friends and colleagues in Bamako revealed the importance of keeping creative channels of communication open, even during times of crisis: “It has been a difficult decision to continue this year with regards to the current political situation in Mali since the putsch on 22nd March. The encouragement and support we have received has influenced our decision to continue. Diane has captured the uses of money in different contexts around London, and Harandane has exposed the effects of economic instability and the result of sanctions imposed on Mali in April 2012.” Interviews, captions and stories from residents of both cities highlight the personal costs of national and international crises, as well as the rich reserves of ingenuity and resilience that people draw on to pull through.
The launch is this Friday evening from 5.30 til 8.30, at the British Museum (Clore Education Centre Foyer). Hope to see you there!
For more info about Money in Bamako and London, take a look at the website. This display is part of the London Festival of Photography – see posts coming up on this site, as well as their own website.
1st June – 1st July, except 12th/13th, 19th/20th, 25th/26th June. FREE.
Daily, 10-5.30 (late opening until 8.30 on Fridays)
Clore Education Centre Foyer, British Museum
Great Russell Street, London