Philippe Koudjina’s joyful photographs of post-independence Niger are a marked contrast to the photographer’s impoverished reality 50 years on. The documentary ”Photo Souvenir" (which you can watch in full) explores the material legacies of colonialism, and offers a rare glimpse at one of Niger’s great artistic talents.
Due to glaucoma and poverty Koudjina can no longer see to take photos nor afford the equipment to make them. And since being hit by a car he’s had to use crutches to get around.
The film follows French photo collectors (including Jean Pigozzi who brought Malick Sidibe’s work into the Western art market) attempting to organize an exhibition of Koudjina’s work in Paris, and reveals the fickle cultural process by which one-time “photo souvenirs” become “photographic art,” raising questions about where and on what terms an artistic reputation is made.