What will Dakar look like in 50 years from now and who will then have access to the sea? This and some other thoughts about the situation with coastline in Dakar will feature in my next documentary film that I am starting to work on. For reference, here is a cross post called Corniche – Live Your Dream from my other blog with a couple of photos from Les Mamelles, and another link to a 59 seconds long trailer for Afropolis 2021 Dakar, the film-to-come. Stay tuned!
Here is a couple of early shots from Place Van Meenen & Place Morichar in Saint-Gilles, Brussels. I am doing new research on this neighborhood and I’m looking for new places where to shoot video and show “what Saint-Gilles is all about” with its very mixed population. This commune is one of most densely populated districts in the whole of Belgium and represents a population with over 140 different nationalities. I am particularly attracted to Place Van Meenen next to the Town Hall because of it’s steep streets, big shady trees, cafés and frequent trams rumbling by. Other favorite spots include several small squares and street corners with tiny bars run by the Portuguese and Brazilians… so chances are good that some of them will feature in my next film in which I would like to hear them tell what they think of their part of the town.
For a couple of weeks my home street has been going through some serious sewage works that started from the main mosque in the north and has been approaching our house ever since. For a few days they have now rumbled the earth right in front of the house and left a terribly noisy water pump to run through the night. Goodbye quiet nights of curfew!
I felt extra confined today for a short moment when I could not walk out of the house because of mountains of sand that had been piled up along the front of the house. But that was only a good sign. It meant that the loose earth was soon going to cover everything that had been opened up earlier, and then the works would move on in the street towards south, away from the house! When that work was done, the guys had a lunch typically in the Senegalese way on the spot. No fuzz!
Today has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. It affected me very strongly to read the news in the morning about Senegal keeping its borders closed until 31st of May. This means I need to change my plan again, in other words I will stay put yet another six weeks (!) alone in the house. I tried to find out about possible repatriation flights with Air France and Air Senegal and found out that Air France has one flight on April 27 to Paris. I waited on the phone line for over an hour to find out if I could reserve a seat and it appeared that there were some places left in business class. A one-way-ticket would have cost 1800 000 fcfa, in other words over 2700 euro. That was a bitter call.
On a more positive note, I interviewed a friend called Aziz today for my video installation that I am preparing for Afropolis. It’s a work in which I chat with people about their home town. I will edit a short clip shortly and upload it on the Afropolis website and on social media on Ello. It’s a start for a series of interviews in my home residency that has been supported by The Kone Foundation. This project has a fresh and timely side vein: as I am being put on hold from shooting video material in Dakar or Nouakchott thanks to Covid-19, my focus is now on Saint-Louis full time. I am taking snapshots of people and will publish little stories in relation to these snapshots and post them in this blog. Keeping busy, are we? Six weeks will be but a blink of an eye!
Yesterday two things happened that made me very cheerful. The first one was the news that I had been selected to take part in the Kone Foundation Home Residency. It’s a fantastic opportunity to network and communicate with other artists and share your work-in-progress with them in these difficult times. This piece of news gave me a real boost to keep on working on Afropolis – my long term project on African urban space – in whatever way is possible right now. According to the original plan I was going to shoot video in crammed buses and other public transport, and later on travel again to Diamniadio in Dakar and to Nouakchott and film in some of its suburbs. In these exceptional circumstances I will now focus on interviews either from distance or on the spot here in Saint-Louis, whenever it’s possible. This is also a chance to experience another form of residency that operates on social platforms – I’m thrilled!
The other good news was that a friend of mine knocked on the door and brought me two very fancy pairs of face masks! Now I have some extra pairs and I don’t need to wash that one mask all the time.
To spice up your day with some Senegalese ambience, here is a short clip that shows how the local mayor Mr. Mansour Faye distributes face masks in a local market. Social distancing is not included.