This selection of images accompanies and enhances the complete Mud Mosques of Mali collection. Dramatically photographed in black and white by Belgian photographer Sebastian Schutyser between 1998-2002, these stark images present the mosque as object. These black and white prints -- also presented in the larger collection -- stand on their own, commanding a special view.
The collection gathers some of the finest adobe mosques of the Niger Inner Delta. Sebastian Schutyser tried to photograph every one of these mosques as an individual, with a character of its own. The uniform approach stresses the great variety in style, and the uniqueness of each mosque.
The use of black and white invites the spectator to look differently. By making abstraction of colour, the morphology and structure of the building reveal themselves all the stronger. The use of a large format camera (4-5 inch) with perspective correction makes the material almost tangible.
Africa has always known an oral tradition in literature. This rich tradition is in peril, as modernity drives the younger generations away from the elderly. Fortunately African authors such as Hampate Ba (Mali) started recording the legends and history of their people. From him is the saying that every time an old man dies in Africa, a library burns down.
Adobe is the architectural equivalent of this oral tradition. This living architecture is vulnerable because it is made of "soft" material. With this black & white collection the photographer tries to record the poetic force of these mosques, and preserve their image for future generations.
Mr. Schutyser's complete photographic work on the adobe mosques of Mali is available in his book, Banco, Adobe Mosques of the Inner Niger Delta, 5 Continents Editions, 2003, ISBN 88-7439-051-3. The Book also contains two essays by leading authors on the matter, Jean Dethier and Dorothee Gruner. French and an Italian versions of the publication are also available.