The MEP is currently presenting in Paris the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to the work of Cameroonian-Nigerian artist Samuel Fosso (1962). Bringing together all of his work from his beginnings in the 1970s until 2017, the exhibition presents the extraordinary journey of an heir to the African tradition of studio photography who has reinvented it by relying only on him self.
Samuel Fosso opened his studio at the age of 13 to do commission work: identity and wedding photos as well as family portraits. Very quickly, in this space of privacy and freedom, he started to take the stage to make self-portraits that revealed a mischievous, proud, curious teenager.
Having become over time a master of performance, Fosso translated through photography a singular view of the world by symbolically inscribing it on his body. At the end of the 1990s, he embodied the archetypes of contemporary societies: the billionaire who played golf, the liberated American woman of the 1970s, the leader who sold Africa to the colonists. Then in 2008, his gaze becoming more political, he put himself in the shoes of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Angela Davis and Muhammad Ali to pay tribute to these emblematic figures of the African diaspora and Afro- American resistance. As well as Patrice Lumumba, the icon of the independence of the African continent.
In 2013, with the series Allonzenfans, Samuel Fosso evokes a chapter as sensitive as it is unknown in the history of France in the twentieth century: the participation of men from the former colonies of West Africa to fight during the two world wars, an attempt for the artist to break the anonymity of these soldiers who were immediately forgotten.
With “Emperor of Africa”, finally, Fosso reaches the peak of his artistic approach by reinterpreting the official iconography of leader Mao Zedong, with a critical look at the power relations between China and Africa and the exploitation of African wealth of natural resources.
November 10, 2021 – March 13, 2022
MEP – EUROPEAN HOUSE OF PHOTOGRAPHY
5/7 rue de Fourcy