In April 2009, an educational project called “The Blue Box and the Others” arose from a collaboration between the Gobelins’ School in Paris and the National Institute of the Arts (NIA) in Bamako, Mali. Emma Hernandez, a former student of the Gobelins’ School, and Jérôme Jehel, head of the image processing section of the school, are the coordinators of the project.
Alioûne Bâ, the spiritual son of the renowned Malian photographer Seydou Keita (1921-2001), is in possession of a collection of original negatives from the photographer’s work. Keita stopped photographing in 1962 at the time of Mali’s independence. The photographic “treasure” is kept at the National Archives of Bamako and managed by the Seydou Keita Foundation since the death of the artist in 2001.
Along with four other students from Gobelins’, I helped train about ten students from the NIA in digital preservation of the photographic collection, largely underestimated in value, with the aim that they would be come self-sufficient to continue the work after our departure. Following this journey of one week, about sixty scanned and restored negatives were the object of an exhibition in April of 2010. The exhibition presented ink prints of Seydou Keita’s work from 1950 to 1962, Malian youth from the 1970s by the photographer Adama Kouyaté and some documentary images from the IFAN fund and in particular of the Dogon.
The following images were not made as part of the work of the preservation program, but were taken during the week outside the training hours with the students of the NIA.