Sory Sanlé’s photographs are key documents of the exuberant, youthful energy that animated Burkina Faso in the first decades of the West African nation’s independence from France. Sanlé began his photographic practice in 1960, the same year that his country (then called République de Haute-Volta) transitioned from being a remote colony into a post-colonial nation. In his Volta Photo Studio, Sanlé’s loosely painted backdrops featuring generic scenes of modern life, such as a cityscape at night, a leisurely beachside boardwalk, an expansive airplane tarmac and classical, vintage columns. Posed in front of his camera with assembled props, people from all walks of life—religious people, artists, musicians and children—everyone could become a hero, and “experiment and play with elements of the modern world”.
Sanlé’s photographs have been exhibited in Burkina Faso, Morocco, the United Kingdom and France. The Art Institute of Chicago will present Sanlé’s work in a solo exhibition in Spring 2018.