Mohamed Keita – KENE/Spazio. Photography as redemption: the young teacher and the boys from Mali

KENE /Spazio, ph. Mohamed Keita, courtesy Mohamed Keita
by Beatrice Bruni

With our courses, materials and cameras, we provide the children of Kanadjiguila
with the tools to narrate themselves and their world
(Mohamed Keita)

Mohamed Keita, from the Ivory Coast, arrived in Rome in 2010 as a migrant and political refugee. The turning point, for him, came right in Italy where he studied photography, which immediately became his profession and gave him fame: in recent years, in fact, many were the exhibitions held in Italy and abroad.

Mohamed believes that the essence of his work consists in sharing and uses photography for conveying messages, teaching to understand social transformations, doing research, deepening one’s self-awareness and the knowledge of the world, in a continuous of teaching/learning, where one never prevails over the other. Photography thus becomes an opportunity for sharing, redemption, affinity, solidarity towards those in need.

KENE /Spazio, ph. Mohamed Keita, courtesy Mohamed Keita

The young photographer then returns to Africa and starts the KENE project, which in Mandingo means Space: the goal is to create a space, in which kids can learn photography as an opportunity of education, cultural growth, exploration, creativity.

Kene/Spazio is now an exhibition until 28 June 2020, at Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art in Prato; curated by Sara Alberani, it will be soon on show in Milan, Rome, Naples.

In the exhibition, in addition to five images by the author, there is a selection of the works of the boys from Bamako, in Mali, and more precisely from the Kanadjiguila district, where Keita held a workshop. Photography that therefore becomes listening, participation, fun, exchange, knowledge. It can even become a job opportunity. “If you learn something then you must know how to share it”, says Mohamed Keita, showing his charming smile.

KENE/Spazio, image shot during the workshops in Bamako, courtesy Studio KENE

The smiles, his and those of his students, are truly touching images in the video installed inside the exhibition. It shows how the photography workshop in Kanadjiguila takes place, day after day, in a daily story of commitment and collaboration.

The conditions are certainly not the easiest, the boys work in huts made of mud and plates, but we see them busy, attentive, with photography books in their hands, studying the great masters – very delicate and joyful are the images of a boy looking through Doisneau and commenting on it with his friend nearby, sitting on the ground, in the hut – or busy shooting, under the expert guidance of Mohamed, with cameras in hand, with rudimentary but very effective studio lamps and semi-improvised sets.

KENE /Spazio, ph. Mohamed Keita, courtesy Mohamed Keita

Perhaps these are the most beautiful stories to tell about photography. The Prato exhibition shows a sample of the skills of these talented students, who seem to prefer the art of portraiture and that of street photography: they want to tell about themselves and everything that is part of their world.

The exhibition was created also with the promotion of the Pianoterra non-profit foundation, which was born in Rome in 2013 to combat poverty and inequality, and promotes cultural projects as a tool for social emancipation in difficult contexts.


The photographs on display are on sale to support the project and can be purchased online on the KENE/SPAZIO website:


curated by Sara Alberani

Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci
viale della Repubblica 277 , Prato
until 28 June 2020

from Thursday to Sunday: 12:00 – 20:00



March 20, 2020


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *