Aboubacar Traoré - Mali

Musée National du Mali

Inchallah (2015)

How do you address the subject of religious obscurantism when you aren’t a photojournalist ? Without a doubt, this is one of the questions that weighed upon the photographer Aboubacar Traore when he decided to investigate the subject. His difficulty in understanding the phenomenon led him to approach it from the perspective of its peculiarity. This resulted in the birth of the photography series entitled Inchallah. Comprised of colour images, the series depicts what appear to be humans —from what we can see of their bodies—but their heads are replaced by jet-black helmets with neither openings nor visors. These individuals bear distinctive symbolic objects (prayer beads and clothes) that lead us to infer their religious persuasion. In certain photographs, the figures have adopted a position of prayer. The desert land- scape, which serves as the backdrop for many of the scenes, becomes enigmatic as a result of the presence of these abstract figures, and takes on an unsettling sensation because they can’t be identified.

The recurring presence of a machete or the frozen moment when a fanatic is about to stone an acolyte are among the elements that express a threat that is both permanent and latent ; a sort of Damocles’ sword that could descend into violence at any moment. Meanwhile, the collection of images exudes a sense of calm that is almost relaxing. The photographer shares both his doubts and his fears when it comes to the question of religious fanaticism in Mali and elsewhere. The title Inchallah—God willing—thus takes on its full significance.

Born in 1982 in Kadiolo, Mali –
Lives in Bamako

Institut Français
Ministère de la Culture de l’Artisanat et du Tourisme du Mali