Samuel Fosso (Kumba, CM, 1962 — Bangui, CF, and Paris, FR) is one of Africa’s most renowned photographic artists. From the mid-1970s onwards, he has given a new twist to West Africa’s long-standing traditions of studio photography by developing and successively refining an individual form of explicitly theatrical self-portraiture. These self-portraits are based on a play with roles, identities, and media images and on the embodiment of selected, heterogeneous characters that are of both personal and political significance.
With his works, Fosso reveals social encodings of the body, clothing, accessories, posture, and facial expressions in a virtuoso manner and playfully traverses attributions of gender, ethnicity, and social class. A core topic of several groups of his works is to be found in the multilayered relationships of Africa to the East and the West since the mid-twentieth century, which have been marked by postcolonialism and globalization. Organized by the Generali Foundation at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, this exhibition highlights these political aspects of Fosso’s work, among others.