Biographical / Historical
Marli Shamir (1919-2016) was an Israeli photographer known for her extensive work in Mali, the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso from 1966-1973. Born and raised in Berlin, Shamir started studying photography during her teenage years and took photography classes at the Contempora Lehrateliers für neue Werkkunst (1934-1937).
In 1938, she was forced to immigrate to Israel where she initially lived in a kibbutz. From 1941-1943, she worked at the mineralogy department of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, and then opened her own studio in Jerusalem in 1945. In 1953, she married Meir Shamir, a former Israeli Diplomat-Ambassador, and from 1966-1973 she lived successively in Mali, Gabon and Cote d'Ivoire. She held a particular fascination with architecture, monuments, mosques, arts and habitants.
During her stay in Mali, she met Pascal James Imperato with whom she wrote the article "Bokolanfini Mud Cloth of the Bamana of Mali" (African Arts, 1970). In 1976, she produced the exhibition
at the Israeli museum in Jerusalem, which focused on the rural and urban architecture and people of the Sahel. The exhibition toured in Europe later that year. From 1977-1981, she lived in Strasbourg, where she focused on documenting the new style of architecture in Mali. Her work on this project is stored at the Center of Documentation in Strasbourg.
In 2005, a book devoted to her photographs from Mali was published by the Grandvaux French Edition House. The National Poet of Mali, Albakaye Ousmane Kounta, collaborated with Shamir on a book of poetry,
Djenney-Ferey –La terre habitee
(published by Grandaux, 2007), which is illustrated with Shamir's photographs. Shamir passed away in 2016 at the age of 93.