Born to a father who is a lawyer and a mother who is a writer, nothing predestined Malyka Diagana to become a photographer.
“When I was a child, my mother had an old camera and she always asked me to take pictures of family events or herself. My mother loves pictures. I didn’t like it and I always complained, stating that I was not the photographer of the family” she said, smiling to herself at these memories. “Today she laughs at me because photography has become my passion and my profession”.
When the woman behind Linguere Photographie left Mauritania in 2003 after high school, it was to read computer graphics in Dakar, Senegal. The young lady decided not to become a lawyer as she dreamed to be when she was little: “Law can be unfair. Either you work for rich people and lose your integrity, or you defend the weakest and struggle all your life”. After getting her degree, she went back to her home country to work for a few years. In 2009, she came back to Dakar to learn sociology… and went back to computer graphics where a new class changed everything she had planned for herself: photography.
“Urban pictures are the result of asking: What is happening here? What is this place, what is its importance to the people right here, right now? Who are these people? Where are they going? What is on their mind at this moment? What is their story? Sometimes, I even invent to those I meet in the street a life in my head”.
To Malyka, photography is a duty of remembrance, of archiving. It immortalizes moments, memories and time. It is the best way to pass down history as it makes what has been captured unforgettable. Pictures are powerful and talk beyond words. They can express the beauty in all things just as well as they denounce the ills of society.
To express life through the pictures she takes, the photographer prefers black and white: “I take all the pictures in color. Always. I want to have the choice when I print them, but I must admit that I prefer black and white. It is more intimate and focuses on what is important, hiding details. It speaks a lot and captures the essence of people, places and things. Colors are important and may speak a lot too, but they can also distract people from seeing what there is to see on the picture”.
The young woman captures mostly children (especially street children), women and street art ; a way of expression she loves. “I am fascinated by children’s curiosity and innocence. They are always asking questions, wanting to learn. And they are always ready to strike the pose when they see a camera!” About women, the photographer says “I love women, I admire them. Our mothers command respect not only because of their sense of self-worth, but also because of what they went through and are still going through in this life. The first time I captured women for a series was in Mboumba (Senegal), in 2009. I was taking my first steps in photography but, to this day, the series Femmes du Sahel – Femmes du Monde (Women of Sahel – Women of the World) has been the most successful”.
Malyka does not use her camera only for the sake of capturing beautiful things. She intends to improve the quality of life of communities through her work. As a member of the action group Regard Sur (An Eye On), a group of photographers of all ages, she changed the situation of women selling goods at the Rufisque market in Dakar: “Sometimes, we see things without really seeing them. They become part of our life, whether they are good or not. It was the case with the market in Rufisque. Women were selling produce and other foods in a filthy environment. The pictures we took and exposed showed that reality in a different light. Today the market has been rehabilitated and everybody is happy!”
The short-term goals of the artist are to travel, see the world, rethink her photography, do something more conceptual and interdisciplinary. In the long run, she wishes to open her own studio and, in addition to photography, investigate and produce documentaries.
*Dirt is not good: be clean in and outside
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