Samuel Fosso was born in Cameroon in 1962, Fosso spent his early childhood in Nigeria, but in 1970, due to the Biafra war, he was forced to flee to Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. Fosso started his career as a portrait photographer at the age of thirteen, using leftover film to shoot a series of self-portraits. He has since achieved international renown with his carefully staged, highly original self-portraits. Fosso's work is reflective, ironic and demonstrates the possibility of changing the meaning of the human body through performances. His work undermines the traditional notion of identity, using a creativity and a 'fantasy space' quite unusual in African photography. Photographs by Samuel Fosso were exhibited for the first time in 1994 during the first edition of the "Rencontres de la Photographie" (Africa's main photographic festival) in Bamako, Mali, where he won first prize.
He has been invited to many other collective exhibits including: In/sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present, Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1996; L'Afrique par Elle Meme, Maison Europenne de la Photographie, Paris, 1998; Africa by Africa: A Photographic View, Barbican Gallery, London, 1999; The Short Century, Munich, Berlin, Chicago, Long Island, 2001-2002. This volume accompanies the first monographic exhibition dedicated to Samuel Fosso's work.
Maria Francesca Bonetti is head of the Photography collections at the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica in Rome. She has contributed to several publications on the history of photography. Stuart Hall is the author of Different: Contemporary Photographers and Black Identity and is a visiting professor at the Goldsmith College of the University of London. Guido Schlinkert, German artist and photographer, lives in Rome. He has curated several exhibits, the last one being IbridAAfrica (Cagliari, Sardinia, 2002).