Omar Victor Diop is a self-taught artist and at forty-one he is one of the leading photographers of his generation. His work is part of the African tradition of studio photography, which includes the pictures of Seydou Keïta, Mama Casset and Malick Sidibé. At the same time, although being in full command of the technique, he has also chosen gradually to distance himself from it. This book, co-published with 5 Continents Editions, for the first time brings together the photographer’s last three emblematic series: Diaspora (2014), Liberty (2017) and Allegoria (2021).
In Diaspora, Diop concentrates on the self-portrait. The Senegalese photographer embodies eighteen figures from the African diaspora who lived extraordinary lives but have been ignored in the conventional history of the Western world. Enlivening the photos with objects associated with football, he softens the impact of his characters by propelling them into the present, where they add an interesting take on the current debate about immigration to Europe and the integration of foreigners.
In Liberty, Diop continues to raise the profile of the continent of Africa and to place the spotlight on its ongoing exodus by providing on overview of the history of his people’s struggles. Playing on visual tropes and combining self-portraits with portraits of others, the artist re-examines the main events in this complex affair. While the incidents all certainly involve different periods and places and are not of equal importance, they are all connected with the same desire for a liberty that has too often been denied.
In Allegoria, Omar Victor Diop turns his attention to a completely fresh topic. In these photographs he explores the issue of the environment and its importance in Africa. The allegory in question is nature itself, which instead of existing in the world, risks becoming just a memory and a series of pictures in science textbooks. Awash in its painful responsibility, mankind gathers around itself nature’s residues, reduced to mere representations.