In this series of self-portraits, completed in 2008, Fosso pictures himself as Angela Davis, Martin Luther King Jr., Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Malcolm X, and other prominent figures from 20th-century Black liberation movements. His photographs reference iconic images, such as Carl Fischer’s photograph of Muhammad Ali that was published on the cover of Esquire in 1968 and the police mugshot taken of King after his arrest during the 1956 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Fosso’s reinterpretations of these historic photographs pay homage to the figures in the original images and raise questions about individuality, celebrity, the media, and the complicated history of representation.
― from the descrition at “Samuel Fosso: African Spirits”
I see slavery as connected to all these questions of freedom, liberation, colonialism, and power. To me, slavery was the source, and I wanted to deal with it in a really deep way. My goal was to restage key images and figures in this history from King during the American civil rights movement to Kwame Nkrumah, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Aimé Césaire during the independence and liberation of Africa. To my mind, all these struggles had one thing in common, and that is the history of slavery. And these figures were committed to the idea of freedom for black people in order to reclaim their culture and human dignity. This was the underlying concept of African Spirits.
― Samuel Fosso