I’m sharing with you a teaser for my upcoming short film in the series on urban space and city dwellers. This film will discuss the status quo of urban planning and the Dakarois civic activism in times in which the public space seems to be growing more and more private with often foreing investments. The teaser was filmed at the beach in Nord Foire in Dakar.
As it happens, the pandemic ruined most of my plans in regard to film making (and I would like to shout, like I am sure you would too: in regard to so many things!) so I have postponed this project for now, in wait of better days and unmasked faces. In practise this means that I will focus more on writing during the summer, so chances are good that it will also affect my future posts on this blog, possibly with random snippets of texts.
What makes you remember a street? Is there an area in town to which you return often? Why? We all know how specific areas within any given city have their own feel and pace, depending on the time of the day. I was always a walker and in whatever town I lived, I always developed a fast understanding of my own favorite neighborhoods. In the case of Saint-Louis, it’s the northern part of the island, or the sandy stretch of land further north by the Mauritanian border in Goxum Bacc and Sal Sal.
During the Covid-19 pandemic I started my days by walking around the island very early in the morning, and the first thing I do is check the surface of the river as some sort of a fortune teller or weather forecast. I would also choose my first walk or bicycle route of the day always by the river even in the non-pandemic times.
With Covid-19 the pace of life has changed and even more so with the Ramadan in full swing. This change will – I hope – manifest also in my video installations for Afropolis. I have chatted with friends and listened to them talk about their hometown and it has been very interesting to hear what they like about this town and how they would change it if they could. I chose to shoot on the streets with a mini DV camcorder on purpose as I have come to realize that digital does not always convey so well what I am hoping to show. I like this extra-economical boundary of 60 minute-cassettes because that puts me in a completely different mood with planning my work. Additionally, it has been my interviewees who gave me ideas for locations to shoot.
The difference between the desert and the city of Nouakchott is striking, but on a second thought there is something about the city that marks the visitor with strangeness and resemblance of the desert, like vague echoes from just outside the city where the vast space of sand and quietness hits you on the face. I made a video installation for one of the upcoming exhibitions on Afropolis and in this work-in-progress you can see images shot in Nouakchott in one day during one walk. As such, the film attempts to show one omnipresent aspect that strikes me the most in this city: privacy. Everything seems hidden, private, behind walls. In comparison to cars, edestrians are a rare sight. While shooting, I was also interrupted by guards on every second street corner and got momentarily interrogated by a police officer. Public space in Nouakchott seems more private than anywhere I have ever been. I call this short film a prelude to the documentary that I am going to make later on. It has footage also from the desert, shot in a very improvised way on a couple of short and very windy moments, during a trek between Chinquetti and Terjit.
I am starting a series of beginnings through various media; alternative photography, short films and text. As far as short films are concerned, “Out of the Box” will be the first one out (of a larger box still, hahhahah) in connection with Soundscapes from the Sahel. What does this mean? It means that I am teasing out improvised beginnings of stories of fictional characters, inspired by my relatively large archive of photos. You know how it goes, when you suddenly look back at some photographs that you took years ago and you immediately reconnect with the time and place of the photo. But what if someone who does not know you nor the background of the photo would interpret what the story behind a particular photo is. That is what I want to play with. Stay tuned!
I made pancakes for dinner and danced! The radio was playing great mbalax so it was only natural that I would jump up and down and do my moves every time a pancake was preparing in the pan. Then I thought I would like to share my rhythmic cooking moment with the rest of the world just to keep up with regular posting on this blog. I decided to spare you from any photos of pancakes although they looked gorgeous, or of me dancing (no comments…) Instead, I would like to share with you a new album called We that was released recently by a friend. It’s a collaboration between Julion De’Angelo and Viola Klein and some long time sabar player friends Abdou Aziz, Abdoukhadre and Adramé Diop all from Saint-Louis. Now if ever it’s time to give your support to artists, so check out what it’s all about here.