M+B presents Volta Photo, an exhibition of black and white photographs by West African artist Sanlé Sory. This show, the artist’s first with the gallery, includes studio portraits from the 1960s-1980s, a stunning cross-section of the postcolonial culture of an economically challenged, but recently liberated country negotiating its local, regional and international identities. Sanlé Sory’s portraits are key documents of the exuberant youth culture in Burkina Faso following the small West African nation’s independence from France. After learning to use a twin-lens Rolleiflex 6×6 camera and process prints, Sory opened his studio, Volta Photo, in 1960, the same year his country (then called Upper Volta) began its transition from remote colony to independent nation. He worked as a regional reporter, event photographer and record sleeve illustrator active in the city’s dynamic music scene. Most notably, however, Sory was one of Bobo-Dioulasso’s earliest and finest studio photographers. A mingling of Fula, Malian and Voltaic youths—customers and loyal friends of Sory—populate the photographer’s inventive studio portraits. Teenagers and twenty-somethings playact as their favorite music icons, while others model modern fashions brought with...
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