Saint-Louis is still fighting agains rising sea levels and coastal erosion. These days you see big trucks that frequently bring massive pieces of stone to the coast line with Eiffage financing a new attempt of stopping the ocean from advancing and swallowing up people’s homes. I took these photos in 2019 in connection with an exhibition in which some of my fisherman friends speak out about what is going on in their lives.
In connection with the current collective exhibition The Ocean of Tuonela (18 June – 31 July) where my series of portraits on fish skin and prints from the series Guet Ndaru Mool are on show, here is another short series of photographs in the same spirit. This particular series is called Nappkat, which means simply “Fisherman” in Wolof and which I had made already earlier in 2018.
I thought I had come to an end photographing the lives of fishermen in Saint-Louis but it seems that I may well keep working on that theme in some other ways, as documenting life where I live is what I do. I am soon starting a new long term project with photography and sound on urban environment and Saint-Louis being very much urban, fishermen will evidently be part of the project, one way or another.
Image transfers on wood, 30×42 cm.
And here’s some ambience from the actual exhibition, which is not only about your works on the walls but the walls themselves, those fantastic walls!
I took my microphone for a walk yesterday. Making recordings is fun, and listening to them is just as much fun! Hit the play button, sit back or stand tall, make some moves or lye in bed and travel inside your head to wherever… this immediacy is what makes music and sound so cool. In this world of screens and scrolling suddenly it is what you are hearing that is scrolling you. Up and down! I also like the fact that when you make your own recordings, you can actually return to those spaces you visited and to me this experience is very spatial and three-dimensional and the visual memory comes not quite simultaneously but after that first spatial “feeling.” It reminds me of the game I invented when I was small: I would walk our dog in the neighborhood and register every little detail on the route and when back home, I would close my eyes and make that walk again and try to remember all those details. I developed the skill so much that I would re-remember walks that had lasted for over an hour, with street crossings, houses, trees, colors, smells, sand under my feet, strangers and familiar persons I had met and what we said to each other, cracks in the concrete of which I would check the advancement the next time I returned.. to the point that it almost became my second nature to this day.
This recording is made of one short walk from home to the sea (I needed the sound of the sea for an upcoming exhibition) and it is filled with human voices, cars, mopeds, sewing machines, sheep, horses, birds, singing, calls for prayer, radio voices, lazy steps, small money in calabashes, carpentry noises… the usual stuff in Saint-Louis and Guet Ndar. And then there is the ocean.
Everything in its raw state, recorded on May 9, 2019 for Get Ndaru Mool and Soundscapes From the Sahel. All rights reserved.
In this blog entry I am presenting the work-in-progress of one of my photography series. It’s a collection of photographs from the fishermen’s neighborhood in Guet Ndar in Saint-Louis of Senegal. There will be some updates to this post with more information about the project and links to further reading in the coming weeks so please do come back again!
Guet Ndaru Mool is primarily a visual essay with portraits that I have produced on fish skin. They represent a community of fishermen who, as a result of climate change, coastal erosion and rising sea levels, are losing their homes and jobs in a world in which the entire traditional and small-scale fishing and fish processing are at stake. These portraits are accompanied by witnessing voices by the persons involved, telling that all this is happening now. Some of these voices can also be heard in a short video that I have shot in Guet Ndar.
I have no words for the alarming info graphics on the rising sea temperatures in this part of the world! Some Western countries and the Chinese – and who not – are snatching the sardines from the plates of the local population by building lucrative fishmeal factories on the shores of Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia. West Africa’s sardinella are joining a worldwide diaspora of sea creatures fleeing as waters warm. The sheer scale of this mass migration dwarfs anything taking place on land: Fish are moving 10 times farther on average than terrestrial animals affected by rising temperatures. More on this can be found in this eye-opening report called Plundering Africa by Reuters.
I am very happy to be part of this upcoming photo exhibition organized by Fondation Dapper under the title Vivre !
My series Guet Ndaru Mool is a photo essay with portraits that I have produced on fish skin. They represent a community of fishermen who, as a result of climate change, coastal erosion and rising sea levels, are losing their homes and jobs in a world in which the entire traditional and small-scale fishing and fish processing are at stake. These portraits are accompanied by witnessing voices by the persons involved, telling that all this is happening now.
Three of my portraits from this series are on show in Gorée, and the entire series includes a video with talks by the fishermen involved in the project.
I was a fisherman in Nouadhibou since 1995 so for 11 years. For a year I was an apprentice captain and for a year I worked as a captain first at 30 km, then 200 km from the coast. My brother-in-law owned a six-meter boat with a four-horse machine. The time I spent in Nouadhibou meant only danger. Every year there are many people who die at the intersection of the river and the ocean and for example when you throw a net you can also get killed. There are so many risks, you can easily lose your hand. When you fish in the night it’s dark and you do not even know if someone falls into the water and drowns. And when you catch a lot of fish, the boat fills up too much and overturns. There are too many dangers. There is also exploitation. Fishing requires strength, luck and speed. If you do not have them, you can perish. I experienced all this and I saw people die before my eyes. When I returned I stopped. After my return I learned that there is also other work than fishing. (M. Dieng)
The exhibition Vivre ! presents 34 photographs of resilience, or the “art of navigating between torrents .” The incredible capacity of human beings to cope with a difficult situation is thus approached in four sub-themes related to Africa and its diasporas: the social approach, the environment, the questioning and the exile. Through the prism of their objective, the selected artists question the contemporary world and its evolution. Each of them offer us in their own way while resonating with each other a reading of the current society that transcends borders.
The exhibition presents works of 15 photographers living in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean: Christian Barbé, Karim Barka, Philippe Gaubert, Moussa Kalapo, Fototala King Massassy, Ziad Naitaddi, Zacharie Ngnogue and Chantal Edie, Jarmo Pikkujämsä, Julie Robineau, Rolook, Saan, Zara Samiry, Hamed Traore and Pierre Vanneste.