A selection of my underwater photography will be in a collective exhibition in St.Louis Missouri (US), hosted by Barret Barrera Projects and curated by Modou Dieng / Blackpuffin in October 4 – November 23, 2019. The exhibition will inaugurate a new and exciting art space in St.Louis.
Statement by Modou Dieng:
The City on the River meets River City. Our Sister City from Africa: Saint-Louis, Senegal.
“A tale of métissage, five centuries old, sitting at its heart. A duality in colors pulsing through the fashion, the jazz, the crafts, permeating all aspects of its culture. The artists who have lived there, who were born there, or those who have simply fallen in love with her, all feel this rhythm. Past, present and never ceasing.”
I am very excited to be part of this and will share more details about the exhibition and other participating artists a little later!
In connection with the current collective exhibition The Ocean of Tuonela (18 June – 31 July) where my series of portraits on fish skin and prints from the series Guet Ndaru Mool are on show, here is another short series of photographs in the same spirit. This particular series is called Nappkat, which means simply “Fisherman” in Wolof and which I had made already earlier in 2018.
I thought I had come to an end photographing the lives of fishermen in Saint-Louis but it seems that I may well keep working on that theme in some other ways, as documenting life where I live is what I do. I am soon starting a new long term project with photography and sound on urban environment and Saint-Louis being very much urban, fishermen will evidently be part of the project, one way or another.
In the middle of our summer residency programme, I am showing some of my work again at the Old Customs House in Kristiinankaupunki during 10-20 June. This magnificent wooden house was build in 1680 and it is a fantastic environment for shows, standing against the constantly changing, disappearing, regenerating nature of our environment.
I have named this series of photographs Evanesce with the emphasis of action rather than a state or a situation, reflecting my constant experience of change and the ephemeral nature of things and light I see around me. Are these images now corresponding to my way of remembering these people, these objects? That is what I am asking myself.
Works: 30×30 cm and 21×29 cm. Prints on Japanese handmade paper; underwater photography; transfers on organic surfaces; mixed media.
I took my microphone for a walk yesterday. Making recordings is fun, and listening to them is just as much fun! Hit the play button, sit back or stand tall, make some moves or lye in bed and travel inside your head to wherever… this immediacy is what makes music and sound so cool. In this world of screens and scrolling suddenly it is what you are hearing that is scrolling you. Up and down! I also like the fact that when you make your own recordings, you can actually return to those spaces you visited and to me this experience is very spatial and three-dimensional and the visual memory comes not quite simultaneously but after that first spatial “feeling.” It reminds me of the game I invented when I was small: I would walk our dog in the neighborhood and register every little detail on the route and when back home, I would close my eyes and make that walk again and try to remember all those details. I developed the skill so much that I would re-remember walks that had lasted for over an hour, with street crossings, houses, trees, colors, smells, sand under my feet, strangers and familiar persons I had met and what we said to each other, cracks in the concrete of which I would check the advancement the next time I returned.. to the point that it almost became my second nature to this day.
This recording is made of one short walk from home to the sea (I needed the sound of the sea for an upcoming exhibition) and it is filled with human voices, cars, mopeds, sewing machines, sheep, horses, birds, singing, calls for prayer, radio voices, lazy steps, small money in calabashes, carpentry noises… the usual stuff in Saint-Louis and Guet Ndar. And then there is the ocean.
Everything in its raw state, recorded on May 9, 2019 for Get Ndaru Mool and Soundscapes From the Sahel. All rights reserved.
The ‘Ocean of Tuonela’ refers to the Underworld, the realm of the dead, in Finnish mythology. It is the title of a multi-artistic exhibition at Bailiff Starcke’s House at Kyrkogatan / Kirkkokatu in Kristinestad / Kristiinankaupunki, Fibnland.
The impact of time and man on our habitat is the overriding theme of the show, which aims to break borders and serve as a wake-up call. The individual works and the exhibition premises, an old wooden building, are in a constant dialogue on current issues related to life, death, power and climate change.
The exhibition allows you to contemplate decaying murals of mess halls in abandoned Soviet-time military bases, the fate of Senegalese fishermen as their environment is being submerged by the ocean waters and the loss of collective memory. The unique historical layers of the building itself naturally add to the experience: the exhibition spaces all tell their own story. Visitors are finally invited to participate in the Last Assembly (Viimeinen kokous).
The Ocean of Tuonela is a complex and intriguing project. The setting naturally brings attention to life in picturesque Kristinestad itself. The exhibition takes a stand and delves into the heart of the soul, but also surprises you with curiosities. Inside the building, visitors will find themselves in the middle of the surging Ocean of Tuonela. They will move in visual landscapes between the real and the unreal. There is always a glimmer of hope.
The exhibition has been realised by the members of the working group Tuonelan tienviitta, established over the course of the past year. Like-minded they may be, but their different personal points of departure and life experiences in different cultural environments bring a richness of perspective. The working group includes:
Marianne Halenius, physician (Kristiinankaupunki)
Kaisu Koivisto, visual artist (Helsinki)
Teijo Laaksonen, restorer (Kristiinankaupunki)
Staffan Martikainen, translator (Brussels / Saint-Louis, Senegal / Kristinestad)
Liisukka Oksa, conservator (Kristiinankaupunki)
Jarmo Pikkujämsä, visual artist and researcher (Saint-Louis, Senegal)
The exhibition is supported by a grant from the Finnish Cultural Fund Southern Ostrobothnia and is open between 17 June and 31 July 2019.
Who slept in these round rooms? What shape were their dreams? Did they stay awake, listening to the repeating noise of ocean waves and too early calls for prayers? Or were they soothed by them so much so that they woke up late with heavy limbs?
How many breakfasts, lunches, dinners were made here? How many times did people ask for a bottle of Kirène? How many chickens ended up on porcelain plates, drowned in onion sauce and mustard? Who asked: “Medium or rare?”
Who washed the white napkins over and over again? Where are they now?
How many books were carried in luggage to these round rooms? How many of them were read?
How many children were conceived in these round rooms? Did any of them come here later after they had been born, and swallow pool water while their mothers would burn their skin in the hot afternoon sun?
Did the local teenagers come here in secret to eat snacks during the holy month of Ramadan?
Why was everything so round here?
Is Paradise round?
The full series has 30 photographs. Hahnemühle archival pigment prints, 16:9 ratio (2019).
People come into our lives, and then they go. We are surrounded by persons and things that evanesce, vanish, fade away. This series catches those moments before they turn imperceptible. Are these photographs glimpses of something fleeting before our eyes? Or, are they but vague manifestations of the past in our memory?
Ay nit dañuy dund ci sunu biir ba noppi dem seen yoon. Lépp li ñu wor dafay rombë ni melax, ni mes, seey ba faw. Nataal yi dañuy wone jëf yooyule ni ñuy jaare ci sunu kanam badi seey ci jawu ji. Ndax nataal yi du ñu doon rekk luy nes-nesi ci sunu suufu gët? Walla it ñu doon fattalikub xew-xewu demb ci biir sunu xel?
Limited edition archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle Gloss Baryta, 30×30 cm.