Only our courage is contagious

This photographic series questions the fight against AIDS in French-speaking Africa, while paying tribute to Malick Sidibé (1935-2016), one of the famous fathers of photography.

Faced with the objective, with an open or hidden face, we all decided to testify, because speaking out helps to explain our reality, to claim our dignity and humanity, our right to life and, in the long run, to change things.
We, as AIDS activists, are the community leaders in the fight against AIDS. Woman, man or non-binary, we are young and old. We are also HIV-positive or HIV-negative, heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, intersex, transgender, cisgender or disabled people; but also people involved in prostitution, injecting drug use, or migrants. We are African. We are exposed to the virus but determined to have access to health.

We embody the hope of the end of AIDS: who better than us to express the needs of our communities? Improve screening, find people who hide because of stigma, keep people in care to eliminate transmission of the virus, etc. We have effective know-how against the epidemic and we spread it around us to be stronger. We are campaigning for governments and international institutions to generalize the avant-garde processes we defend, to finance innovations and the fight against discrimination that we carry.

And it is also through photography, a powerful political tool, that we challenge everyone. These images were taken between 2018-2019, in Bamako, Marrakech, Bujumbura and are a tribute to Malian portrait photographer Malick Sidibé, who in the 1960s, faithfully and tenderly captured the dreams and hopes of a population that was free from the yoke of colonization. The great Malian portrait master in Bamako was then Seydou Keïta who photographed the elegant women of the capital and their families in room 13x18. The clientele of Malick's studio is popular, they come from all over the world. Through his studio portraits, the so-called "Eye of Bamako" not only illustrates the authenticity and thirst for freedom of Malians, but also that of the whole of Africa, of an Africa without complexes. The Malian national anthem with its pan-African accent sets the tone: "For Africa and for you, Mali".

It is in this spirit that we, in turn, wish to show the beauty, pride and resilience of a population affected by AIDS, another war that has been particularly devastating in French-speaking Africa since 1908 and up to the present day.
Together, from south to north, we fight for the end of the epidemic and for our rights; we fight so that only our courage is contagious.


Bibliography :

- Sida, un heritage de l'epoque coloniale
- Sida, sur la piste africaine
- Christophe Broqua : "Se mobiliser contre le sida en Afrique". 2019
- Gilles Bibeau : " L'Afrique, terre imaginaire du sida : la subversion du discours scientifiques par le jeu des fantasmes". 1991
- "Pour déjouer les règles traditionnelles du portrait et entraver l'identification de l'individu, Malick Sidibé met en scène, dans son studio rudimentaire de Bamako, ses modèles vus de dos. L'absence de face à face ne perturbe en rien l'ordre social et familial, dans la mesure où la géométrie des corps, les motifs et le volume des vêtements sont identifiables. Il rend ainsi visible le corps collectif familial. " Sàri Stenczer
- Malick Sidibé : "Vues de dos"
- Rapport 2016 Le Prix de l'oubli - MSF
- JACQUES PEPIN. Aux origines du sida, Enquête sur les racines coloniales d'une pandémie, 2019