A selection of my underwater photography will be in a collective exhibition in St.Louis Missouri (US), hosted by Barret Barrera Projects and curated by Modou Dieng / Blackpuffin in October 4 – November 23, 2019. The exhibition will inaugurate a new and exciting art space in St.Louis.
Statement by Modou Dieng:
The City on the River meets River City. Our Sister City from Africa: Saint-Louis, Senegal.
“A tale of métissage, five centuries old, sitting at its heart. A duality in colors pulsing through the fashion, the jazz, the crafts, permeating all aspects of its culture. The artists who have lived there, who were born there, or those who have simply fallen in love with her, all feel this rhythm. Past, present and never ceasing.”
I am very excited to be part of this and will share more details about the exhibition and other participating artists a little later!
This is a selection of my favorite shots from my first ever underwater series called Deep. They were all made in 2018 and I am now moving on towards more abstract and night photography as well as simply shoot movement, my all time favorite topic, under water. This coming summer I plan to set up a shooting in a pool or at sea for just anybody who might be interested. You are all invited to have your portrait made!
This is a short selection of portraits from my ongoing series called Flashbacks from the Future. It is a work-in-progress of underwater photography that has been transferred on organic surfaces in the later stages of the process. I hope to show a full series in summer 2019.
This is one of my most recent image transfers on wood. I have given this series the title Flashbacks From the Future and I won’t even try to explain all the connotations that went through my head while thinking of a suitable title. I somehow imagine myself as a viewer in the far future looking at these photos as something that once was. I get into that same mood for example every time I am in Dakar where I see the city in year 2118, imagining what kind of an overcrowded boiling hell it will be by that time, in its current lack of proper urban planning.
I realize now that this series is allowing my unconscious to play a more important role in the process of making each photograph. I usually work with a topic that I have defined in advance – although it might change in the process – but in this case it was the work that came first and the title afterwords, so in every sense this project appears less limiting in the ways I am creating it. This particular photo was in my selection of work-in-progress that I wanted to show on the occasion of the open house event that we organized at Waaw Artists’ Residency earlier in the week, and the feedback was interesting, as it always is. Some visitors would judge it “bizarre” while others loved it. I myself am thrilled with how this project remains open and I’ll keep working on it in the coming days and weeks. Wishing you all a Very Joyous Christmas & New Year!
I’m going deep again for a new series of underwater photography. The last time it was all about portraiture, and in this second series I aim to catch movement. I am fascinated by the amount of variables when it comes to light under water and looking at movement in water just adds to the excitement. On top of free-diving, another fun part in underwater photography is that you get crazy colors without post-editing!
I have a confession to make well before the approaching New year’s resolutions: I appear to have become more buoyant since the last underwater shootings. It’s really hard work to stay underwater without a weight belt. In the past I did not pay so much attention to this, or I used various improvised methods such as attaching a weight around my toe with a string.
My friends are using water rescue training manikins to train lifeguard skills in water. When they train to become lifeguards, they are expected to pass a test in which they need to hold the manikin above the water for three minutes. It actually sounds easier than what it is. They thought it would be a good idea to let the manikin make me sink in the bottom of the pool. The idea was that I would wrap my legs around it (him? Does this thing have a nick name?) and as it weights 60 kg when filled with water, I would be able to remain under the surface easily. But no! The moment I would try to stay still and concentrate on my camera, I would start a slow but steady travel back on the surface of the water with the manikin between my legs. My friends could not believe it!
I guess the only solution to this buoyancy problem is to go back to my good old habit of swimming more often and longer and yes, loose some body fat! And maybe buy that belt too.
This is a follow up to my previous post and short update in which I would just like to share with you my thoughts on how much work there can be behind a photograph. These three photos are from my second attempt of creating portraits with a new media. They are looking interestingly “damaged” but that was not intentional and I am still not entirely happy with the results.
This means that I will have to experiment more and more and run a third and possibly a fourth trial (or even more if that’s what it takes) before I can trust my skills so much that I would get on with new portraits. The slowness of the whole process is not entirely up to my skills, it has also quite a lot to do with the fact that I am short of materials and equipment in Saint-Louis and so improvisation and trial and error takes a massive role in the whole. This of course is part of the fun, and it keeps me busy!
Some giant geckos still consider my darkroom their territory and every time I enter the room they first look at me for a few seconds as if I were an alien from another planet, then they run in all directions to hide and while at it they make that funny noise with they bodies. Thanks to these guys the room needs a regular cleaning and yesterday while sorting out the mess I made a discovery of some unused cyan coated sheets of paper. When the opportunity arises, never miss your chance to test out coated paper, no matter how old or damaged it may first look!
The horizontal image is from one of my series of underwater portraits from last year, and the two vertical ones are from a street performance created by an artist friend El Hadj Keita together with Pap Bouba & The Family. Keita is a man of many talents and makes amazing sculptures and in this particular situation they had made a street performance called “Breaking the Chains” for the Dak’Art Biennale and I took some photos of the performers.
Overexposed edges and all sort of other imperfections are not such a bad thing. They are the thing.