Friday, 12 January 2018

Antoine Schneck | Mali

Photo © Antoine Schneck | All Rights Reserved

Following the recent racist vulgarities uttered by the White House resident describing African, Caribbean and South American nations (among others), I decided to feature photographs of Malians by French photographer Antoine Schneck as a riposte.

I have rarely posted about Mali on The Travel Photographer blog and for those of us who need a geographical refresher, it's a landlocked country in West Africa, and is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometres (480,000 square miles). Its population is 18 million, and its capital is Bamako.

Setting aside its troubled recent politics, Malian music is glorious, and is derived from the griots, who are known as "Keepers of Memories". Its most well known is the late guitarist Ali Farka Touré and the Tuareg band Tinariwen, and the wonderful Fatoumata Diawara and Babani Koné.

Schneck tells us that he starts the process of his portrait-making by having the models sitting alone against a black fabric in a white fabric tent, with his camera protruding from a hole in the tent's fabric. He operates the camera from the outside, remaining invisible to the subjects. His post process further darkens the backgrounds to become pitch black, to obscure all but the models' faces. 

Aside from his Mali portraits, Schneck offers us portraits of Ethiopia (Omo Valley and Afar), India, Miao in China, Papua New Guinea, Burkina Faso and other projects.

Antoine Schneck lives in Paris. Portraiture has appealed to him from the start of his interest in photography. His work is developed in series, over the course of journeys, desires, projects, always a meeting. In 2007, Antoine Schneck went to Burkina Faso to stay in a small village, and he returned with over 300 portraits. He then went on to do series in China for photographs of the Miao and India for the Nilgiri, followed by Mali. 

For those fluent in French, here's his interview with RFI.