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  1. 'Man of 1,000 faces' wins top photographic prize

    Samuel Fosso

    Samuel Fosso, one of Africa's most eminent photographers, has won the prestigious Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize for 2023, at a special ceremony in London.

    Described as "a man of 1,000 faces", the Cameroonian-born artist has specialised in self-portraiture and performative photography since starting out in the 1970s - and his works now appear in renowned galleries all over the world.

    The Deutsche Börse award recognises photographers whose work have "made the most significant contribution to international contemporary photography over the past 12 months", according to a press release.

    Fosso, now 60, was raised in Nigeria, but fled during the Biafran war when his mother died and later settled with his uncle in the Central Africa Republic (CAR), where he began an apprenticeship at a local photographic studio.

    At the age of 13 in 1975, he branched out on his own opening his Studio Photo Nationale in the capital, Bangui. He started taking self-portraits using up exposures on his films to send to his grandmother in Nigeria.

    His initial aim was to show he was alive and well, but his interest in exploring the genre grew - and he experimented with new techniques and poses.

    "Winning this prestigious prize, recognised as one of the most important in the field of photography, means that my work is recognised by the artistic community," Fosso said.

    "This recognition is very important to me. I feel a lot of joy and pride."

    One of his most famous images, from his series from the 1970s, is of him sporting bell bottom trousers inspired by West African fashion and images seen in American magazines:

    Samuel Fosso
    Image caption: Samuel Fosso, Autoportrait, from the series 70s Lifestyle, 1976
    Studio photo of two men
    Image caption: Samuel Fosso, from the series 70s Lifestyle, 1975-78

    In his series African Spirits from 2008, Fosso posed as 14 iconic figures of the US Civil Rights Movement:

    Samuel Fosso as Angela Davis
    Image caption: Samuel Fosso, Self-Portrait (Angela Davis) from the series African Spirits, 2008
    Samuel Fosso as Tommie Smith
    Image caption: Samuel Fosso, Self-Portrait (Tommie Smith) from the series African Spirits, 2008

    In his Allonzenfans series from 2013, he reflected on how France conscripted men from its West African colonies to fight in World War One and World War Two:

    Samuel Fosso as WWI soldier
    Image caption: “I want to show the black man’s relationship to the power that oppresses him,” Samuel Fosso
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