What is Afropolis?

Entrance to Saint-Louis market on the mainland

For long, urban theorists have considered African metropolises either failed cities with hardly any services available, or more optimistically constant works-in-progress, and recently even as areas where the existing informal economies and social networks can teach us lessons for other rapidly growing urban areas. So, how is it? I am about to find out.

Afropolis is my multidisciplinary art project in which I aim to communicate through image and sound some of the dynamics of living in Addis Ababa, Dakar, Nouakchott or Saint-Louis, for starters. The idea for this sizzled in my head for the first time a long, long time ago when I witnessed how in Dakar there was no space for pedestrians to walk safely because all the pavements had been (and they still are) taken up by massive 4×4 cars. I was wondering: Where is this leading? Are there urban planners and if so, is their ultimate goal in life to have a ridiculously big and expensive 4×4 car that they can park just about anywhere at the expense of the poor pedestrians? 

Another, more recent phenomena that also pushed me to start this project was the “satellite cities” and luxurious residential areas that are being created in numerous countries, often with foreign investments, in the outskirts of big cities, or in some cases in the very heart of them. This process of changing the city is visually very appealing to me and tickles my sense of place, and of space.

I am asking: how do these cities work? In this part of the world urban dynamics seem to have layers and layers of their own specific twists and I would like to poke those layers and document people’s views, hopes, imaginations and their own experience of the urban environment, whether they call it “home” or otherwise. Don’t get me wrong: I am not building a case against what does not work in a city, quite the contrary: with Afropolis I want to envisage and promote the amazing energies of these cities. Hopefully it will lead to reactions, suggestions, and collaborations among those of you who feel somehow connected to these places. In the long run I hope to be able to reveal stories on and by people living in urban environments and their in centres, peripheries and in-betweens.

Dangerous liaisons

With the opening day approaching, this is just one of those posts with which I wanted to immortalize online so that we can look back at it and remember what things looked like on the day we moved in. It took some three days for the local electricity company to replace old cables and wires and sockets so that our customers will be able to aliment their laptops and mobiles in the co-workin area and cafeteria. A few more finishing touches and we are ready! 

Art happens. And nothing can stop it.

Galerie Éthiopique organizes exhibitions, end-of-residency events and film screenings at Rue Potin X Abdoulaye Seck Marie Parsine in Saint-Louis of Senegal. More information: Tel. +221 77 143 88 90 or info[at]ethiopiques.gallery

Galerie Ethiopiques is back!

After a long Covid-19 hibernation, Galerie Ethiopiques will re-open soon in a bright L-shape space in Rue Potin X Abdoulaye Seck Marie Parsine. Our season will – so we hope – properly ignite in the autumn but we will be starting with a photo exhibition “Eureka Photo” already on 1st of April. This will give you the opportunity to see also our co-working space and cafeteria where you can have a pause and sip a cappuccino, tea or a fresh fruit juice.

If you would like to follow Galerie Ethiopiques and its events in the future, have a look at our Instagram page or Facebook page, as well as our website. You can also stay informed with what’s going by following this blog via #ethiopiques.

Looking forward to seeing you very soon!

Galerie Éthiopique organizes exhibitions, end-of-residency events and film screenings at Rue Potin X Abdoulaye Seck Marie Parsine in Saint-Louis of Senegal. More information: Tel. +221 77 143 88 90 or info[at]ethiopiques.gallery

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’

Why is that piano on a desert island?

Kstad_island
© Martina Kändler

During the month of June four artists Hattori Eiko, Louisa Gifford, Martina Kändler and Chris Sperandio spent their time in the AiR program discovering the white nights of the  summer in Kristinestad on the West coast of Finland. Kristinestad is a charming small town with colorful and old wooden housing and narrow streets. It has a maritime past and is a member of the Città Slow network and as such makes a fantastic setting for artists to dwell in and to dwell on.

This summer Finland has had a record dry and hot weather and we were lucky to start early in June before the heat wave attacked this corner of Europe. We were all rather busy either in town or out in the woods most of the month. On top of that on the menu there were exhibitions, the annual Open Gates and Gardens event that attracts thousands of people from the region, workshops for natural dyes or how to make comics,  encounters with people curious about art, amazing collaborations with local cultural actors and associations.. you name it!

Kstad artists
In the press. Eiko, Martina, Chris and Louisa.

Martina kept herself busy also during nights as her project had a focus on the color of the sky. What better way to study the white nights! Her other project took her to visit numerous summer houses and their interiors and this project might bring her back to Kristinestad again in 2019. Fingers crossed! To an average Finn a summer house is something rather ordinary that has a lot of rituals to go by – everyone has memories of summer houses and it was usually a sign of growing up when all of a sudden you no longer wanted to spend your summer in the bush with your parents, no matter how picturesque the place! Louisa spent a lot of her time in the print workshop. Eiko, who works with fibers and geometrical shapes and patterns, experimented with natural dyes from nettles, flowers, bark, lichen and what not. My ambitious plan was to experiment with her on local plants for anthotype photography but circumstances were a little against me and I have to postpone these experiments until later. I even had spotted some delicious poppies in one garden.. next year then!

Kstad_Eiko_WP_20180610_007
Eiko Hattori

What’s the story with the piano? If you ever wondered how to get your head around the narrative when creating graphic novels, Chris had some very interesting tools to help you with. He taught a two-day workshop for anyone interested in how to make comics – according to him anybody can do it and he should know as his experience in teaching comics extends to decades. So, why is that piano on a desert island? Start your story with such an image and work your way backwards to the every beginning – it makes sense!

Kstad_birds
Late evening sun in the Kristinestad artists’ residency

Looking back at Kristinestad I am just impressed by the welcoming attitude of the locals and how they helped each and every artist in their projects… to the point where we all were at times so busy that one month was barely enough to finish what we started. We also owe a very humble thank you to the local cultural secretary for making our program so easy to run, together with the local artists association Spectra. Based on such a positive experience we may want to run a new programme on both ends of the short Finnish summer in 2019 in June and in August.

At the time of writing this my batteries are again charged to the full and I am back in hot and humid Saint-Louis. It is now time to roll up my sleeves and get busy with some of my own projects before hosting new artists. On top of my photography and writing projects I will try to be a real blogger for once in the coming two or three months and come back with more frequent updates – no promises but I’ll do my best!