AUTOPORTRAIT is the first comprehensive survey of Samuel Fosso’s multifaceted oeuvre. Since the mid-1970s, the artist has focused on self-portraiture and performance, envisioning variations of identity in the postcolonial era. From Fosso’s early self-portraits in black-and-white from the 1970s to his recent, continually inventive exercises in self-presentation, highlights include the vibrant series “Tati” (1997), in which he playfully inhabits African and African American characters and archetypes; and the magisterial portraits of “African Spirits” (2008), where he poses as icons of the pan-African liberation and Civil Rights movements, such as Angela Davis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Patrice Lumumba and Nelson Mandela.
This landmark monograph demonstrates Fosso’s unique departure from the traditions of West African studio photography, established in the 1950s and ’60s by modern masters Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé. By charting his conceptual practice of self-portraiture, and sustained engagement with notions of sexuality, gender and self-representation, this book reveals an unprecedented photographic project-one that consistently reflects themes in global visual culture, and covers the range of expressive applications of photography.
Taking pictures is for me a way of liberating myself from the suffering of childhood, from illness, war, everything. I always believed that my life would be pushed aside by other people’s, but photography has given me a second life. It’s made all lives possible for me. – Samuel Fosso