Published by Steidl/The Art Institute of Chicago. Edited with text by Matthew S. Witkovsky. Text by Antawan Byrd, Florent Mazzoleni.
The studio photographs of Sory Sanlé and his participation in the vibrant music scene in Bobo-Dioulasso give us a picture of a cosmopolitan city shaping its independent identity in the 1960s through to the ’80s, the heyday of West African independence movements. Vintage photographs, seven-inch record sleeves and studio accessories are all reproduced in the most extensive portrayal to date of photography and music as key popular art forms with local, national and international resonance. With the colorful full title of Volta Photo: Starring Sory Sanlé and the Good People of Bobo-Dioulasso in the Small but Musically Mighty African Country of Burkina Faso, this book also includes essays on photography and sound in Africa as well as a CD with hit songs by Volta Jazz, Echo del Africa Nacional and other star bands.
Born in Burkina Faso in 1943, Sory Sanlé runs a portrait studio in Bobo-Dioulasso. He opened his business in 1960, the year that Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) declared independence from France. For many years, Sanlé also organized music parties around the city; he served as the official photographer for Volta Jazz, a key popular music orchestra in the 1960s and ’70s.
Published by Reel Art Press/Morton Hill. Introduction by Forent Mazzoleni.
Sanlé opened his Volta Photo portrait studio in 1965 and, working with his Rolleiflex twin-lens, medium-format camera, Volta Photo was soon recognized as the finest studio in the city. Voltaic photography’s unsung golden age is fully embodied by Sory Sanlé: his black-and-white images magnify this era and display a unique cultural energy and social impact.
This is the first monograph on Sanlé’s work, which examines the natural fusion between tradition and modernity. Sanlé documented the fast evolution of Bobo-Dioulasso, then Burkina Faso’s cultural and economic capital, portraying the city’s inhabitants with wit, energy and passion. His work conveys a youthful exuberance in the wake of the first decades of African independence. In many ways, Sanlé’s subjects also illustrate the remoteness and melancholy of African cities landlocked deep in the heart of the continent.
“Mr. Sanlé’s work documenting the cultural scene is reminiscent of that by Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keita ... and now it is his turn to be lionized.” –The New York Times