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.
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.
My thoughts today: even when confined to our homes, we remain part of nature. I’ve seen some wild images of how nature takes over fast in areas where humans ceased to interfere. When you live in the tropics you see in a concrete way that despite the fact that we create our habitats at the expense of nature, it’s still here! Now at the time when it is very quiet in the house, small birds are looking at me as if I were some sort of an intruder. They constantly check out good nesting spots in the interior terrace and bring in small sticks and tufts of hair and all sorts of things they consider useful for a nest. They have also understood that they can drink in the house because I water our small trees and other house plants regularly. Lezards have also become much less shy and run around in the house even in the daytime and while I am in the room.
Today I would normally be eating Ngalax, a sweet porridge-like dish based on millet, peanut and baobab fruit, that the Senegalese Christians share with everyone in Easter. I cycled to one local small supermarket on the mainland and bought a jar of strawberry jam instead, and I’m going to make pancakes. When I got back home I read that according to some recent research that was carried out in Belgium and Holland, you should keep a much longer distance from others, especially if you are running or cycling behind someone. Even when walking behind another person their recommendation of a safe distance is 4-5 metres, and when cycling, at least 10 meters. How would that even be possible here? Leaving a two-metre-distance means that someone – usually a taxi or a moped – is going to squeeze in to that empty spot immediately.
I am about to take some old shirts to a tailor next door for repair and I’m wondering if I should order some masks as well? Maybe dye some cotton with indigo so that I could inhale its lovely scent when wearing it? I have an old piece of cloth that I dyed long time ago with a particular shibori technique, perhaps now is a good time to get busy and make new ones! People here seem to be wearing masks more and more although it’s not so popular yet, except maybe among the taxi drivers. I’ve noticed that for many it’s like an accessory placed on the forehead or it’s hanging around the neck rather than covering the face. In some local news clips you see people lower the mask whenever they speak and then put it back on.
I would like to wear a mask when I go out to buy food because some beggars by the doorsteps of the shops tend to get very close. Same thing happens with the guys who usually ask for money to buy alcohol. They are all sober now. Times are tough.