Sory Sanlé: Volta Photo 1965-1985

To capture the dreams and fantasies of the mostly young people of Burkina Faso's second largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, self-taught photographer Sory Sanlé launched his portrait studio, Volta Photo, in 1960. This was just as his country, known as Upper Volta until 1984, became independent of the French. Sory Sanlé: Volta Photo 1965-1985 lays out a cross-section of his striking black-and-white portraits--several featuring men and women in Western-influenced 1960s bellbottoms, cigarettes dangling from their lips and sunglasses on their noses. Against Sanlé's hand-painted backdrops, some subjects rock their Bobo Yéyé record-cover look, some are a gunslinger fantasy. Boxers, sports car drivers, Djombolai dancers--whatever his paying customers wanted, Sanlé found a way to represent. Sanlé's talent, however, makes these portraits more art than flattery, more authentic than make-believe. They embody Burkinabes at the dawn of independence. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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