Looking and Listening: Multi-Sensorial Frequencies of Vernacular Photography in Samuel Fosso’s 70s Lifestyle Restricted; Files Only

Monie, Chelsy (Spring 2023)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/fn1070380?locale=en


In the 1970’s, Samuel Fosso, a Cameroonian-born photographer residing in the Central African Republic, opened his first photography studio in Bangui. After hours, when Fosso closed the doors of his studio to his patrons, the photographer turned the camera on himself and captured self-portraits in various costumes and poses. In my thesis, I employ Tina Campt’s method of listening to engage with the ways in which Fosso confronts circumstances of his past and present in his early self-portraits from the 1970s, commonly referred to as 70’s LifestyleI look beyond Fosso’s visual performance of real and imagined characters to investigate the encounters between Fosso and his camera. I ruminate on available information about Fosso’s childhood to make the case that Fosso’s 1970s self- portraits are vernacular images through which Fosso reflects on intimate moments in his life. By looking and listening to Fosso’s 70’s Lifestyle series, I foreground what we know about Fosso’s own life as an important starting point for understanding the photographer’s later works. 

Table of Contents

Introduction – 1

A Historiography of Fosso’s Self-Portrait Series – 3

Samuel Fosso’s Biography: The Photographer’s Childhood – 14 

Photography as a Response to Social Un-aliveness – 19 

Listening to Fosso’s Vernacular Photography – 23

Conclusion: The Making of an Artist – 27  

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