Fatoumata Diabate


Born in Bamako, Fatoumata first laid hands on a camera at the Centre de Formation Audiovisuel PromoFemmes. That experience opened up doors to the Centre de Formation en Photographie de Bamako (CFP) where she studied from 2002 to 2004 and had an internship as a photo lab technician until 2009.

After those first experiences in photography she began exhibiting in Mali and abroad in group shows and has now established herself as a successful artist. Her work gained recognition gained recognition at Rencontres de Bamako 2005, where she won the Afrique en Créations prize. She has exhibited at Addis Photo Fest, Biennale Internationale de l’Art Contemporain de Casablanca, and Les Rencontres d’Arles.

Attracted to portrait as well as social and humanist photography, her work mainly focuses on women and youth.

Photography, video, and presence on social networks are the tools she uses on a daily basis as a contemporary artist to explore and share her personal way of seeing the world. Her primary focus at present is Le Studio Photo de la Rue, her Street Studios series, presented here as an installation.

Le Studio Photo de la Rue

The project Le Studio Photo de la Rue focuses on merging tradition and modernity. It is deeply rooted in identity and looks at how new generations can honor the heritage of their elders.

These images hearken back to ‘50s and ‘60s Bamako; people would leave their villages to travel to the big city. Families and communities would often take up contributions to support them, and once there many never returned. Such people would often use portraits of them taken at street studios to send greetings back to their communities and show how well they were doing.

That same idea guides Fatoumata in her work; she wants everyone to appreciate the model’s prosperity and wellbeing. Following in the footsteps of Malian masters such as Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé, Fatoumata works to present her subjects “at their best.” She does so by mastering subtle details: she offers subjects the chance to wear traditional chieftain’s garb, jewelry and attributes; she uses high quality West African traditional fabrics for backgrounds or a place to pose on; and uses various contemporary props or personal belongings to complete the setting.


The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.