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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Michele Sibilioni: On the fringes where the rough starts to show

Parties, style and subculture are at the heart of so much great photography. In Africa, Malick Sidibe's pictures of Bamako (both inside and outside the studio) are just one example, and Billy Monk's pictures of the clubland of apartheid-era Cape Town are another.

And then up comes Fuck It by Michele Sibilioni, a book on the nightlife of Kampala. It's a mix of party shots, street life, preachers and prostitutes, interiors and expats. It's not about style, identity, community, or performance. It's about the bare bones of the night time affair.

It's the night-time economy of an African city and as such, it doesn't have the style of Sidibe, Monk, or Stromholm or Andersen. It's a different kind of photography, one that's rough around the edges, but the energy, the service economy, the dicey decor will all seem very familiar to anybody who has spent any time in a developing capital, or actually anybody who has ever spent a dicey night out anywhere, developing or otherwise.

There are fights, pools of vomit, three-card tricksters, bad tattoos (that's where the 'fuck it' of the title comes from - the front thigh of a woman, a penis drawn right below) and faces, black and white, blanked out from drink and drugs; another night washed up in Kampala. Sound familiar?

The interiors are great too. Sibilioni's camera looks up to the rafters or down into the corners of rooms, to functional grids of iron and wood, to splattered corners of stone and concrete.

Colours are off, grain is big, and the streets are dark and washed in green, paths you travel to a commodified world filled with bad sex and bad security guards.

But strangely enough the parts add up to a bigger whole. They tell a story that, though not entirely coherent does make a sense of sorts, and captures the mood and the moments of night in the city just off centre stage, on the fringes where the rough starts to show.

Buy the Book here. 

And have a look at Nsenene here. Sibilioni makes lots of really good work.

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