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Installation view of Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara © The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2020, photography by Anna-Marie Kellen.

The Met's New Exhibition Celebrates the Rich Artistic History of the Sahel Region

'Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara' is an enxtensive look into the artistic past of the West African region.

West Africa's Sahel region has a long and rich history of artistic expression. In fact, pieces from the area, which spans present-day Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, date all the way back to the first millennium. Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara, a new exhibition showing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, dives into this history to share an expansive introduction to those who might be unfamiliar with the Sahel's artistic traditions.

"The Western Sahel has always been a part of the history of African art that has been especially rich, and one of the things that I wanted to do with this exhibition, that hasn't done before, is show one of the works of visual art...and present them within the framework of the great states that historians have written about that developed in this region," curator Alisa LaGamma tells Okayafrica. She worked with an extensive team of researchers and curators from across the globe, including Yaëlle Biro, to bring the collection of over 200 pieces to one of New York City's most prestigious art institutions.

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Mdou Moctar performs on the Hydro Quebec stage at Place D'Youville during Day 4 of the 52nd Festival D'été Quebec (FEQ2019) on July 7, 2019 in Quebec City, Canada. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Redferns)

Celebrated Tuareg Musician, Mdou Moctar, Returns With New Single 'Ibitlan'

Listen to a psychedelic new track from the renowned Nigerien artist.

Celebrated Nigerien-born, Tuareg musician Mdou Moctar returns with the blazing new single "Ibitlan."

The psychedelic track sees the artist delivering electrifying guitar riffs in the Tuareg tradition. He sings passionately throughout the track, which as the artist notes, is a love song describing his lover's beauty. He further described the song in a statement via The Fader:

It's like when there's a valley, with a stream running through it, and all the plants are green. The song is about how my girlfriend is beautiful like that. Her skin is like a yellow flower, and her smile is like lightning.

The track is the artist's first since the release of his 2019 album, Ilana (The Creator), which NPR Music described as the most "insane psychedelic guitar album of the 21st century." Before then, he released 2017's Sousoume Tamachek.

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