‘To Make Strange Things Possible’: The Photomontages of the Bakor Photo Studio in Lamu, Kenya

Heike Behrend

in Media and Identity in Africa

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780748635221
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653010 | DOI:
‘To Make Strange Things Possible’: The Photomontages of the Bakor Photo Studio in Lamu, Kenya

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The Bakor Studio in Lamu, situated on one of the main streets of the Old Town, was established in the 1960s. The founder, Mr Omar Said Bakor, born in 1932, was a self-made man and brilliant bricoleur, who never went to school. Before opening the studio, he worked for ten years as a street photographer. Bakor's photographic montages may serve as examplars in the discussion of the complicated processes of the localisation and hybridisation of a new global media: photography. Of interest in such a discussion are the points of contacts and ‘third spaces’ that come into being when images and visual media travel to and enter other cultures and representational regimes. Photography is connected to already-existing local artistic traditions, and is shaped and transformed by them. Through local interventions and the mediation of local social, religious and cultural values, it is reworked to attract local customers. In the case of Bakor's photographic collages, these mediating forces specifically include the phenomenon of Islamic revival and the tensions between the new picture media and the Islamic prohibition of images.

Keywords: Omar Said Bakor; photography; global media; third spaces; photographic collages; Islamic revival

Chapter.  4559 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: African Studies

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