Samuel Fosso (Kumba, CM, 1962–Bangui, CF; Paris, FR) is one of the most renowned African photographers working today. He has been a key innovator in the great tradition of African studio photography since the mid-1970s, developing and successively refining a distinctive form of explicitly theatrical self-portraiture. Fosso’s self-portraits blend photography with performance and intertwine autobiographical themes and conceptions of the self with political and historical perspectives. The works articulate the complexity and diversity of contemporary identities and explore the relations between Africa and the East and West in the era of postcolonialism and globalization.
Organized by the Generali Foundation at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, the retrospective presents a selection from Samuel Fosso’s most important bodies of work. It is the first major exhibition of Fosso’s art in Austria and one of his first solo shows in the German-speaking countries.
Featuring elaborate makeup and lavish costumes, props, and sets, Fosso’s autofictional self-portraits are not so much self-dramatizations as self-transformations. He slips into roles and borrows identities—from pivotal figures in history as well as social archetypes, many of them with deep roots in the globally networked visual memory. Embodying these icons and representations, he interrogates their impact on media, society, and politics, casting himself as a surrogate and catalyst. Fosso’s self-portraits are highly artificial scenic productions on the stage of the photography studio, where he is photographer, performer, and director in one. With analytical acumen and acting skills, he deftly exposes and undercuts social codes around bodies, attire, poses, facial expressions, and gazes and collective assignments of identity based on gender, sexual orientation, and ethnic and social background.
Curator: Jürgen Tabor
October 22, 2022–April 10, 2023
Museum of Modern Salzburg
5020 Salzburg, Austria