Burkina Faso photographer Sory Sanlé (born 1943) started his career in 1960, the year his country (then named République de Haute-Volta) gained independence from France.
Sanlé opened his Volta Photo portrait studio in 1965 and, working with his Rolleiflex twin-lens, medium-format camera, Volta Photo was soon recognized as the finest studio in the city. Voltaic photography’s unsung golden age is fully embodied by Sory Sanlé: his black-and-white images magnify this era and display a unique cultural energy and social impact.
This is the first monograph on Sanlé’s work, which examines the natural fusion between tradition and modernity. Sanlé documented the fast evolution of Bobo-Dioulasso, then Burkina Faso’s cultural and economic capital, portraying the city’s inhabitants with wit, energy and passion. His work conveys a youthful exuberance in the wake of the first decades of African independence. In many ways, Sanlé’s subjects also illustrate the remoteness and melancholy of African cities landlocked deep in the heart of the continent.
“Mr. Sanlé’s work documenting the cultural scene is reminiscent of that by Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keita ... and now it is his turn to be lionized.” –The New York Times