In this photo my friend is playing flute and I am plucking balalaika, wearing a tatar hat. Judging from my facial expression, we never excelled as a band. But I did like to perform. My grandmother taught me vulgar folklore songs with double meanings and I would entertain the adult audience without really understanding what I was singing. I remember that in the summer my uncles would provoke me to sing some of those songs at the beach just to embarrass young women. #Metoo had not yet been invented. I would also climb up on our rooftop, particularly on Saturday mornings, and sing popular hits to anybody who would come to the grocery shop next to our flat.
*My childhood home was located in a neighbourhood called Pahaniemi. It would perhaps translate into Wicked Peninsula, or Evil Cape.
In summers our courtyard was a training ground. My uncles were semi-professionals in boxing, which resulted in a bookshelf filled with trophies rather than books. It fell into my responsibility to polish them twice a year with toothpaste and a rag.
Once my cousin and I were taken to a boxing club (perhaps we had asked for it) and very unsurprisingly, and contrary to my cousin, I did not have it in me. I was more interested in animals and preferred to research for example the community of small Egyptian ants. Our apartment was in a house which had a grocery shop at the other end of the building and the tiny red ants had arrived in a shipment of oranges and nearly invaded the entire house.
The owner of the grocery shop had a boy of my age and sometimes we would sneak into the storage room of the shop from our boiler room and eat toothpaste. But most of the time I would behave. I was a very easy child, and definitely not a boxer type.
I’m sharing with you a teaser for my upcoming short film in the series on urban space and city dwellers. This film will discuss the status quo of urban planning and the Dakarois civic activism in times in which the public space seems to be growing more and more private with often foreing investments. The teaser was filmed at the beach in Nord Foire in Dakar.
As it happens, the pandemic ruined most of my plans in regard to film making (and I would like to shout, like I am sure you would too: in regard to so many things!) so I have postponed this project for now, in wait of better days and unmasked faces. In practise this means that I will focus more on writing during the summer, so chances are good that it will also affect my future posts on this blog, possibly with random snippets of texts.
The difference between the desert and the city of Nouakchott is striking, but on a second thought there is something about the city that marks the visitor with strangeness and resemblance of the desert, like vague echoes from just outside the city where the vast space of sand and quietness hits you on the face. I made a video installation for one of the upcoming exhibitions on Afropolis and in this work-in-progress you can see images shot in Nouakchott in one day during one walk. As such, the film attempts to show one omnipresent aspect that strikes me the most in this city: privacy. Everything seems hidden, private, behind walls. In comparison to cars, edestrians are a rare sight. While shooting, I was also interrupted by guards on every second street corner and got momentarily interrogated by a police officer. Public space in Nouakchott seems more private than anywhere I have ever been. I call this short film a prelude to the documentary that I am going to make later on. It has footage also from the desert, shot in a very improvised way on a couple of short and very windy moments, during a trek between Chinquetti and Terjit.
This is a short series of b&w memories from our last Analogue Extreme programme in early 2019, a desert trek in Mauritania organized for artists and creatives by Waaw Centre for Art and Design. It was a week full of laughter, beautiful scenery between Chinquetti and Tergit, camels, haikus, even a sand storm and some blisters… all in all a magnificent week feeling fully connected to your environment, away from digital life.
To my surprise I realize now that my Olympus OM10 may have had its better days: it apparently leaves scratches on film that you can see in all photos. I may still have to test this and see if it’s really time to find a new solution to shooting film.