Groupe Bogolan Kasobané By Goldner, Janet
The Groupe Bogolan Kasobané is an association of six artists from Mali, West Africa: Kandioura Coulibaly, Klètigui Dembélé, Boubacar Doumbia, Souleymane Goro, Baba Fallo Keita, and Néné Thiam. The five men and one woman began working together in 1978. The Groupe is largely responsible for having elevated bogolan, a Malian textile technique traditionally used to decorate garments, to an important symbol of national and even pan-African identity. The members of the Groupe met as students at the Institut National des Arts (L’INA) in Bamako. At that time, bogolan was rarely seen in urban areas and was fabricated only by rural women. The study of bogolan was also strictly forbidden at the art academy. The Groupe’s use of local materials and elevation of materials associated with craft is a strategy employed by many contemporary artists throughout the world. Their first objective, to promote and preserve bogolan and to have it accepted and valued as artistic expression has been achieved. The Groupe moved the technique from craftsmanship to art. Today the Groupe is known because of their numerous exhibitions in Mali and around the world. Working collaboratively and developing new approaches to this centuries-old technique, they have continued to feature it in their art and award-winning costume and set designs for film and stage as well as fabrics for fashion and home furnishings.