Fatoumata Diabaté tells us what she expected before she went to take the photographs and what surprised her the most.
“I expected to go find the people in the literacy classes under a very green tree. My surprise was that literacy allows the villagers we visited to make calculations with numbers, but to speak in Bambara[a West African language spoken by 80% of Malians, Ed.].”
Born in 1980 in Bamako, Mali, Fatoumata Diabaté received her initial experience at the Promo Femmes audio visual training centre before joining the Photography Training Centre (Centre de formation en photographie – CFP) in Bamako between 2002 and 2004. She continued her education with a one month internship at the vocational learning centre (Centre d enseignement professionnel) in Vevey, Switzerland and has participated in numerous workshops both in Mali and abroad.
She has participated in several group exhibitions (Bamako Encounters 2005, 2009 and 2011; Kornhaus Museum of Bern in Switzerland, etc.) and had several solo exhibitions (Festival of Visages francophones de Cahors, France; the Malians of Montreuil, outside the walls of the quai Branly museum, etc.)
She has reported for World Press Photo, Oxfam, Rolex. In December 2005, she received the Africa in creation prize of the French Association for Artistic Action (AFAA) for her work entitled Tuareg, in gestures and movements. In 2011 she was awarded the Blachère Foundation prize for her work entitled The Animal in Man; the prize was an atelier in Arles and an exhibition at the Blachère Foundation. She is currently developing an art project about soutiki youth (The night is ours).