A young black man with beard and suit, an opaque, beige suit. With a striped tie. This man looks at me for a long time, as if challenging me, as if to say: do not wait any longer. What did you think when you hid behind the house and it rained and you saw the moss? What did you think when you heard distant cries? When the land next door was filled with flames? You wondered if it was possible to change the world, if it was possible to reach those space lights that haunted you before you fell asleep. You liked to draw on some imaginary dunes and erase them, draw and erase them in a sort of frenzied hallucination. So you could calm down, you went into a trance where erasing gave you peace. This man, this bearded young man is there, he watches you, you are a child. You do not know what to say to him, you do not know if he hates you, if he repudiates you. You know, he’s waiting for you.
With Mour Fall at the Cheikh Anta Diop University (Dakar, Senegal)
Can we rely on what objects have to tell us? Which (hi)stories are objects telling us? Which is the potency and the agency of objects?
This photographic series ponders upon the idea of material history. It is a collection of objects found at the street known as “couloir de la mort” (death row) located in the campus of the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal.
Mirror installation, 2017
My body itself is a mosaic of heritages; my mouth, my hair, my skin color; not to say the language with which I express myself and my believes. We are thrown into the world with an inheritance and this inheritance is even more complex for the colonized. Franz Fanon insists that the colonized man is a political creature in the most global sense of the term and he couldn’t be more right. The history of many peoples was suddenly fragmented with a foreign language, political scheme, and Julia Kristeva emphasizes our innate foreigness. “Handle with care” is a warning to address our self reflections, our fragile identities, understanding that we are all already foreigners.
This installation was set on an abandoned and rusty shipping container at the Nigerian Railway compound in the city of Lagos. It was inspired by one visit to a local market where I saw this mirrors, they had a tape around them which read: Fragile. Handle with care. I thought it to be a great way of framing a mirror. Our fragmented reflections, our fragmented histories and life stories have been marked by the complex dialogue of identity, globalization, colonization and locality.
In some of the mirror I wrote quotes from Julia Kristeva’s book Strangers to Ourselves.
More and more I reflect upon the need to respect oneself. I have lived a life of lies. Disguising myself, trying to fit in the schemes of other broken selves.
What a better way to look at oneself than with the warning of “Handle with care”? Fanon argues that “a member of a colonized people must be constantly aware of his position, his image; he is being threatened from all sides”. Which selves are we reflecting-creating? How can I look at myself in the mirror without being frightened of what it brings about?
Numerous students living at the student houses from the Cheikh Anta Diop university in Dakar, Senegal; go out every night to study under the street lights of the campus boulevard. Every night they go to memorize and rehearse words; words meaningful to their future practices. Jacques Derrida understands the university profession – professors – to be intrinsically related to the religious act of professing. To profess is an act of faith. Studying is, as well, an act of faith. The murmurs and the slow movements of these students resemble praying acts. Movements allow for knowledge to be embodied. The public space becomes their private-communal space. Lux mea lex (“Light is my law”) is Cheikh Anta Diop’s motto; strangely enough most of these young people are law students profiting from public lighting. There is a hope for future, a hope projected towards knowledge as a means to materialize dreams. Most acts of faith are acts of courage; these students are definitely courageous.
A dance intervention in situ (Cheikh Anta Diop University) with the participation of Pi Krump, Inas Dasylva, Bienvenu Gomis, Khadim Ndiayea and Clarisse Sagna took place in the main boulevard of this university.