Samuel Fosso: The man with a thousand faces

Samuel Fosso: The man with a thousand faces
10.11.2021 – 13.03.2022
5/7 rue de Fourcy 75004 Paris

The MEP is proud to present the first exhibition bringing together all of Samuel Fosso’s work from the 1970s to the present day. An artist who has become a must on the contemporary art scene, Samuel Fosso is regularly invited to present his work in internationally renowned institutions such as the Tate Modern in London,
the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, or the MoMA and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Samuel Fosso, Autoportrait Série « Tati », Le Golfeur, 1997
© Samuel Fosso courtesy Jean-Marc Patras / Paris

His work is also represented in the most prestigious private and public collections in the world. Despite this wide recognition and significant critical acclaim, his work has not recently been the subject of a major retrospective exhibition. The Samuel Fosso exhibition aims to show the full extent and richness of an abundant work that has questioned the potential of the photographic image for nearly fifty years and that continues to offer a fresh and relevant view of the world.

Samuel Fosso, Autoportrait Série « Tati », La Femme américaine
libérée des années 70, 1997
© Samuel Fosso courtesy Jean-Marc Patras / Paris

Exhibition Catalog On the occasion of the exhibition and in collaboration with the MEP, Steidl editions are publishing the French version of the book Autoportrait, the first monographic work dedicated to the artist. Self-portrait, collective, Steidl editions, 2020. A text by Simon Baker will be included in the French version.

My work is always associated with performance. I consider that my body is attached to other individuals, to the person I embody in order to transcribe his story

Samuel Fosso

A master of performance in front of the lens If Samuel Fosso is part of a long African tradition of studio photography, of which Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta are the most eminent representatives, he has also largely contributed to reinventing this photographic genre by turning the apparatus towards itself and by making the studio a playground, a space of absolute freedom and the place of all possibilities in the theatrical elaboration of identities.

Samuel Fosso, Autoportrait
Série « Black Pope », 2017 © Samuel Fosso
courtesy Jean-Marc Patras / Paris

Beyond a classic practice of self-portraiture, Samuel Fosso embodies multiple characters as a film actor could do to better question the codes of representation and the unconscious fabric of our imaginations. By one unique work, which combines photography and performance, Samuel Fosso is part of a line of major international artists including the American photographer Cindy Sherman and the Japanese photographer Yasumasa Morimura. Samuel Fosso uses the body, clothing, props and poses as critical tools to deconstruct stereotypical representations of gender identity and social class.

He shows multiple individualities that escape any simplistic categorization and also thinks about the symbolic power of images in the elaboration of icons and collective myths. His work bears witness to this from the 1970s with his first self-portraits, later with the emblematic series “Tati” and his various collaborations with the world of fashion and in particular Vogue magazine.

©2022 Samuel Fosso, MEP CITY OF PARIS