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Samuel Fosso


Samuel Fosso is a Cameroonian photographer who has worked for most of his career in the Central African Republic. His work includes using self-portraits adopting a series of personas, often commenting on the history of Africa. Initially he made self-portraits to fill up the unused parts of his photographic films. These photographs were destined for his grandmother, who had stayed behind in Nigeria. The making of self-portraits became an objective on its own for him. For his self-portraits he used special cloth backgrounds, in front of which he dressed up in costumes that varied greatly: authentic European costumes, African folk costumes, navy uniforms, karate keikogis, boxer shorts, and so on.

In 1994 Fosso became known abroad when he won the first edition of African Photography Encounters in Bamako, Mali, the most important photography festival in Africa. His self-portraits always show a glimpse of our own humanity. Fosso's varying costumes are said to show that identity is determined partly as well by things over which humans lack control. His work has therefore also been characterized as having a disclosure of how humans can in fact create their own identity.

Fosso won the Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands in 2001.

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