Halfway goats and Malick Sidibé

Friday’s goats in trees post brought to my mind the fact that several acquaintances of mine who have travelled in central African countries have mentioned spotting goats that are half white and half black– not speckled, but divided neatly down the middle.

Here, via Flickr user Maody, is one example:


I also noticed another such goat in a book of photographs by Malick Sidibé:


(Although, to be honest, I think that this animal is actually a sheep).

While surely the half-and-half coloring of these animals serves some Darwinian purpose, it’s hard not to see it as a result of indecision on the part of their maker. More than anything else, they remind me of those mixed boxes of ice cream one gets at the supermarket that are equal parts vanilla and chocolate, presumably for conflicted eaters and/or divided families. I’m also reminded of a great tongue-in-cheek Minor Threat-style hardcore song my friend wrote when we were 13 years old called “Halfway Man”, whose lyrics excoriate the man who eats half a sandwich and then folds the rest up in his pocket for later (‘Eat it now or eat it later HAAAAALFWAYYY MANNN!‘). With that it mind, I hereby christen these creatures Halfway Goats (or Sheep).

While we’re here, I might as well blog a bit on Sidibé, one of my favorite photographers. One thing that’s cool about Sidibe is that he has worked more or less as a commercial portrait photographer his whole life, rather than aspiring to art-for-arts-sake. Another cool thing is the fact that prosperous citizens of Mali would come into his studio with objects they considered to be status symbols, which were generally: hip clothes, bicycles, radios, guitars and motorbikes. These happen to be some of my favorite visual items and make for great portrait photography. So much cooler than if, say, nowadays people went into his studio with Bugaboo baby strollers and really fresh arugula and whatever else currently constitutes an upper-middle class status symbol.

Some of his photos:







5 thoughts on “Halfway goats and Malick Sidibé”

  1. Great…. we’re having a big exhibit in NYC at the Agnes b. Galerie/boutique.
    50 howard street
    nyc, ny… (soho)
    opening early april…. I’ll send you infos if you’re interested.

  2. Oh! and yes he’s from Mali, his studio in Bamako….. easy to google….
    it’s so awesome to appreciate and recognize such work, as you said not meant for art purposes, but social statements….. however one looks at it, it’s a great report on times changing, and more…..

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