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

Open call for artists’ residency

Kristinestad Artists Residency_call 2020

Open call
 – Kristinestad, FINLAND August 2020: art, weaving and pottery

Kristinestad Artists’ Residency is a non-profit and artist/volunteer run programme in the idyllic wooden town of Kristinestad on the Finnish West coast. We are now inviting artists for a stay between 2 and 29 August 2020. Anyone wanting to make use of our weaving and pottery facilities is particularly welcome, but the programme is open to creatives of all art and craft disciplines.

If you are into nature, silence and slow living, this setting is for you. Resources and sources of inspiration also include vernacular architecture and traditional crafts. Looms, ceramics facilities, textile dyeing and lino cutting tools are available. Collaborations with the local community are possible, especially with schools. Exhibitions, shows, workshops etc. are encouraged.

We offer a variety of simple but comfortable accommodation options – mostly in traditional wooden buildings – and workspaces with wifi connection. Before and throughout the stay, residency hosts will be available for project research, linguistic assistance, finding materials and tools as well as establishing contacts locally. The residency fee is 600 Euro.
To apply, please send us an informal letter by email and tell us why you would like to come to Kristinestad and what you would like to do during your residency. We would like to hear from you by 15 March. The selection will be announced by 22 March.

For application instructions and more information, see our website http://www.kristinestadresidency.org

 

Texture diary

I found some old photos floating in one folder that I had named “miscellaneous”. You know the type of dumping folder that serves for a long term graveyard for those shots you do not  know what to do with and yet you don’t want to toss them in the bin either. These ones have something in common: they are all close ups of surfaces. Not very typical of me as I have always been more inclined to take photos of people.

These were made without any particular series or project in mind. For some reason these surfaces and textures and colors had a strong appeal me and now it’s clearly another form of “long term diary” of places that I read when I watch them. The interesting thing here is how just about any image, even the most abstract one – has the power to develop into a story – whether imagined afterwards or something that really happened and had a wider connection to your life at the time when the photo was taken. To open up those contexts with these photos, please read on. I named these photos by their locations.

Saint-Louis I

Inspired by an exhibition where I saw one visually stunning screening of a video set up on a large mosquito net, I once attempted to photograph something through a net but did not really put my mind to it properly and abandoned the whole thing, too soon. I thought it just didn’t work out. Yet. I might try some tricks later on so better keep the photo as a reminder…

The Dogon Country

I don’t remember where exactly I took this photo, except that it was on one of my trips in Mali when we were going around the country meeting people who work in crafts cooperatives. This is the ceiling of a place where we had a short break for a tea. Buildings in mud are fantastic, they make me feel I am an earthling. And Mali is simply a pearl!

Dire Dawa

A close up of a pan that is called Mankeshikesha in Amharic. I bought it on the Kefira market in Dire Dawa so that I would be able to roast coffee in Saint-Louis on the rooftop (because roasting produces a lot of smoke). I did it a few times with this pan but abandoned it and started to use another, more practical one. I forgot the pan under a bougainvillea for many months in the merciless tropics and the next time I saw it, it had turned beautiful yellow and orange. I was so happy to see this that I made another art work out of painted metal sheets that I left exposed to the sun for a long time. I sprinkled them every now and then with all sorts of media and abracadabra! They ended up first in an exhibition and after that somewhere in Sweden. I still have this pan!

Saint-Louis II

More metal. This shot is from one of the local metal workshop round the corner. I admire all kinds of workshops where people make things by their hands. Welding and noisy stuff happens there day in, day out. The wonderful thing is that there is almost no work that they cannot do! Here’s a perspective: the so called developed countries have abandoned to large degree the knowledge of crafts. Everything related to manual work these days is overpriced, outsourced to distant poorer countries with cheaper labor, or it is practically non-existent. It’s painfully hard to find a handyman in a throw-away culture. Here i.e. in Saint-Louis of Senegal, on the other hand, whenever you need something you can start by designing it yourself and someone will make it for you out of the materials available. We have had a spiral staircase made out of metal, as well as a gas roaster for coffee. And so many other smaller projects. How neat is that?

Ngor

You are looking at the skin of a swordfish that was caught by one of the local restaurants running a fishing club and dragged ashore one day in Ngor in Dakar. It had a fantastic shiny deep blue color that unfortunately does not show in this photo. I may have post edited the photo anyway for some purposes. Fish is good, and their skin makes beautiful sandals. It’s a pity that their skin is not exploited here to their full potential. Yet. Though unfortunately fish meal factories and industrial fishing is killing the local artisanal fishing!

Saint-Louis III

The process itself becomes the art work. This piece of plywood was covered in old indigo that had lost most of its blue power. It so happened that I forgot the dye on the wood for too long before rinsing it out – must have been because of someone at the door interrupting my creative process – so eventually I left it as it is. The thing I like about natural indigo is that it is very blue and yes, it’s natural! And here I was completely taken by surprise with the “tired indigo” color. It has lead me to experiment with other organic surfaces and dyes too.