ABC in Wolof

Did you ever wonder why it matters to learn things in your mother tongue? And more so, to be able to also write it correctly? Many countries with colonial past still struggle with this and such is also the case of Senegal. We had the pleasure of hosting Clayton Junior, a designer from Brazil, at Waaw Centre for Art and Design for an art residency program and his project in collaboration with a local school in Saint-Louis is one very refreshing example of how art can contribute to pedagogical challenges. Please click on this link to access a video and read on!

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Doun Baba Dieye

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Time to make new plans for a brand new year… As an incurable planner, I also need to remind myself of where I am, not just where I am going and here is that photo. Plastic trash has not been cut out of the photo – as there was none – nor have I used any filter or photo-shopped the image in any way. Looking at the photo one might consider this place as some sort of a paradise. But whose paradise are we talking about?

Two days ago we had a boat ride in Doun Baba Dieye, the “sunken village.” Although part of this village is now under water due to a man made mistake of connecting the Senegal river to the Atlantic ocean, the population of the village has been able to turn newly formed and salty land arable with the help of traditional knowledge and can now feed over seventy families. That’s just thrilling!

Wishing you all a very inspiring New Year 2020!

Waaw

Yes, Waaw*. In other words: Waaw Centre for Art and Design, the Artists’ Residence located in Saint-Louis, Senegal. This is a very short post to share with you a recent video that will briefly present what Waaw does. If you are more of a reader, you can also log on to Waaw’s homepage. Enjoy!

*Waaw is Wolof and means ‘yes’

Afropolis expo: a teaser

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A first milestone in my Afropolis photo project: a work-in-progress exhibition. I framed twelve prints last night to show what I am working on. This small show is combining some sleek-looking photos and rough handmade and “unfinished” frames made out of old windows that are very easy to come by here in Saint-Louis. Doing this show has helped me a lot in both choosing the photos that I want to include in later exhibitions and defining the theme or themes that this project will bring forward. These twelve photos were taken in Addis Ababa and once I will have more material from the other cities – Dakar, Nouakchott and Bamako – these themes will certainly develop more in the process. For now I can say that visually I hope to capture some of the contrasts of neighborhoods that are human in size and “organic” against the modern construction boom with glass and steel buildings reaching up in the skies, and human activity characterized by informality that takes place in between these two dynamics. More of that later with more photos!

Ndar Ndar Music & Café, Saint-Louis: A work-in-progress photo exhibition “Afropolis 2020” with a focus on African urban space: Addis Ababa. The final exhibition material will be made in platinum prints in summer 2020.

Fishermen on Dry Land

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.

Image transfers on wood, 30×42 cm.

And here’s some ambience from the actual exhibition, which is not only about your works on the walls but the walls themselves, those fantastic walls!

Soundscapes from the Sahel I

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.

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Click here to access Soundscapes from the Sahel I

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.

 

Hotel Paradise

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?

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The full series has 30 photographs. Hahnemühle archival pigment prints, 16:9 ratio (2019).