Public Program

Artist Talk: Samuel Fosso in conversation with Mark Sealy

Artist Samuel Fosso will join Dr. Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph, London, for a conversation about photography and self-presentation in conjunction with the Menil’s exhibition Samuel Fosso: African Spirits, and the 2022 FotoFest Biennial exhibition, African Cosmologies Redux. Completed in 2008, Fosso’s African Spirits series consists of fourteen large gelatin silver prints in which the artist portrays himself as prominent figures from 20th-century Black liberation movements. Sealy originally selected this series by Fosso to include in the 2020 FotoFest Biennial program African Cosmologies: Photography, Time, and the Other.

The Artist Talk series is supported by a gift from the Cockrell Family Fund.

Glasstire is the media sponsor of Artist Talk: Samuel Fosso in conversation with Mark Sealy.

About the Speakers:

Born in Cameroon, Samuel Fosso lived in Nigeria until the Nigeria-Biafra War (1967–70), when he and his uncle moved to Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic. It was there that Fosso apprenticed with a local studio photographer. In 1975, when he was just thirteen years old, Fosso opened his own commercial portrait studio, Studio Photo National. He routinely finished off unused rolls of film by taking self-portraits that he displayed to promote his studio business or he sent to his family living in Nigeria. Exhibited for the first time in 1994 at the inaugural biennial exhibition Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali, these early images brought Fosso immediate international recognition. His work can be found in numerous museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Tate Modern. Fosso continues to produce compelling work using the visual format of portraiture to explore social history, personal and shared memories, humor, and the psychology of personhood.

Since 1991, Dr. Mark Sealy OBE has been the director of London-based photographic arts institution Autograph ABP. He has published numerous essays and artist monographs, publications, curated exhibitions, and commissioned photographers and filmmakers worldwide, including the critically acclaimed exhibition Human Rights Human Wrongs at Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto (2013) and in London (2015). He has written for international photography journals, including Foam Magazine, Aperture, Creative Camera, and Next Level. His most recent books, Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Time , 2019 and Photography: Race, Rights, and Representation, 2022, explore the work of international Black photographers through artist interviews and in-depth analysis of their visual practices. Sealy is also currently a Professor of Photography Rights and Representation at the University of the Arts London – London College of Communication, affiliated with the Photography Archive and Research Centre.

Attending the program:

This program takes place in the main building, located at 1533 Sul Ross Street. Additional information regarding accessibility and parking can be found here.

As always, Menil programs are free and open to all.