Tate Modern Untitled gallery, Level 2
2 October – 21 November 2004
The third exhibition in the Untitled series at Tate Modern opens on 2 October with the work of nineteen year old Mohamed Camara (born 1985, Mali). This is Camara’s first exhibition in the UK and includes forty-eight photographs from his series Chambres Maliennes (2001-2002) together with twenty new photographs and a video, which have been especially made for the show. Camara began taking photographs in 2001 in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Having been presented with a camera by a writer working for the Photographic Biennale of Bamako, his work was subsequently included in this Biennale which then travelled to Barcelona.
Most of Camara’s images show interiors of homes in Bamako and often feature the artist, his friends and family engaged in daily activities such as housework, cooking or sleeping. The external world in this artist’s work is in fact only ever seen through glimpses in open windows or doorways, veiled by curtains or cloth. Camara’s images do not speak of destitution, despite the fact that Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. He avoids suggesting narrative, and his pictures remain open and evocative, while at the same time offering a genuine and affecting view of daily life of the people of Bamako. Camara is also an enthusiastic footballer and supporter : one of his most striking works features a bright yellow football shirt in front of an open window with sun-light streaming through it.
Mali has a long photographic tradition, which emerged in the 1930’s in commercial studios specialising in posed portraits. A later generation of artists, inspired by photo-journalism, introduced movement and a sense of spontaneity into their work. Camara, familiar with this tradition through magazines and television, combines elements of these approaches, creating pictures that are very staged and planned, yet appear to capture natural moments in time.
It is possible to see how Camara’s images also link to the history of painting. He draws instinctively on classical motifs in his depiction of sleeping figures, windows and drapes. Each picture is a meticulous arrangement of light, shadow and colour and many feature unusual view-points, qualities which are reminiscent of the techniques of twentieth-century painters such as Pierre Bonnard or Henri Matisse.
This Untitled exhibition coincides with Black History Month in October. There will be a lecture on 21 November by Simon Njami (curator, art critic and co-founder of Revue Noire and collaborator on the Anthology of African Photography XIX and XX Century) in the exhibition. Camara’s video, Les Rideaux de Camara, will also be shown at Tate Britain on 1 October. Please see www.tate.org.uk for details on other events at Tate.
Untitled is a series of contemporary exhibitions at Tate Modern dedicated to presenting new work by international artists not widely exhibited in the UK. This year the series explores The Public World of the Private Space and will include six eight-week exhibitions. This exhibition is curated by Vincent Honoré. A unique display space has been designed by architects Herzog and De Meuron especially for the series.
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