Mohamed Camara

Mohamed Camara
Mohamed Camara

Mohamed Camara started his career taking photographs on a borrowed digital camera in Bamako, Mali in 2001 aged 16. After having the camera almost stolen, he retreated into his own four walls and pointed it at the windows and doors. The resulting images Chambres Maliennes (Malian Rooms) 2001-02 show his friends and family engaged in everyday tasks in the interiors of their shadowy houses with blinding light piercing the windows and doorways. Without any knowledge of C20th art or any training in photography, Camara was instinctively drawn to classical motifs of sleeping figures, windows and drapery, recalling interiors by Pierre Bonnard or Henri Matisse and had an intuitive understanding of the ‘decisive moment’ which Henri Cartier-Bresson coined in the 1950s for his photography.

The film Les Rideaux de Mohamed (The Curtains of Mohamed) 2004 was made a few years after this series but relates directly. With a fixed viewpoint, Camara focused on different doorways, using them like a theatre stage and arranging the light, colours, objects and actors. With an absence of narrative, he presents intimate depictions of domestic interiors and people and animals going about their daily business. The film focuses on the interactions around the floating drapes that hang in the doorways of houses and poetically captures the contrast between interior and exterior, light and dark, heat and cool, sun and shade, public and private.

Camara said “There was something unsatisfying about the fixed image (of the Malian rooms), because there’s so much going on in and around these rooms. That’s why I wanted to make this film, which expresses time, patience, etc. When the Malians saw the film, they were surprised, because in Mali, when you agree to be filmed, it’s in order to see yourself, and in this film the people aren’t seen – they’re just silhouettes, or their faces are outside the frame…”


Born in 1985 in Bamako, Mali where he still lives and works. His practice revolves around photography and film.

Major shows include Paris Photo France, 2011; Rencontres de Bamako: Biennale Africaine de la Photographie, Bamako, Mali, 2009; Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography, Miami and New York, USA, 2006; Mohamed Camara, Tate Modern, London, UK, 2004.
His work is part of the Deutsche Bank collection, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France; Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France.

Work in the show

Les Rideaux de Mohamed 2004
Image courtesy of the artist / Galerie Pierre Brullé, Paris


Martin Barlow, curator of the exhibition Moving Into Space at the National Football Museum talks about the exhibition.

Barthélémy Toguo, Lucy Azubuike and Nnenna Okore, three of the exhibited artists, talk about their work and their interest in using materials which reflect the lifestyle and experience of the people of West Africa.

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Creative Tourist


Nine countries show off their talent as five city venues link up for a summer celebration. Helen Nugent in the Guardian

Street life, dazzling dress, social commentary and a riot of sensuous colour interweave in a rich assembly of West African art, writes Charles Gore in the Times Higher Education