We are back in Amsterdam, continuing the research on Panafricanism and the post colonial era in Senegal, in collaboration with African thinkers, writers, visual artist and scientists. At the Fondation Senghor I received a beautiful comic book Once upon a time there was Senegal and Leopold Sedar Senghor:
At the roof top terrace of our home at Gorée Island, in Dakar, Senegal, I am working on the image editing for my book on the Amsterdam Dakar road trip. A photo book about connecting different worlds, migration, identity, education, parenthood and love. A beautiful graphic design by Rene Put. With contributions by African writers, philosophers and artists.
And wonderful news: the Mondriaan Fund gave a grant for the book publication.
In the autumn of 2009, a grandmother in the village of Mun, in the Ghund valley of the Tajik Pamir Mountains, approached two young researchers and asked them to write down her old recipes. “I want to share them with my children and grandchildren while I still remember what I know,” she said.
Check the book ‘With our own hands’ by Frederik van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider, with photos from Matthieu Paley, Theo Kaye and me.
My publication “Presence in Absence” is ready!
Presence in Absence has been published as a multi-fold poster, with a soft linen inside cover, a special binding and a text essay by curator Salah M. Hassan:
Presence in Absence is a series of new photographs and video-based work by the Dutch photographer Judith Quax, in which she continues to explore African displacement and clandestine migration to the West.
Her intimate portraits of people on both sides of the migration divide – those who managed to leave and made it to the West, and those who stayed behind waiting to be reunited – humanize the subjects and expose their vulnerabilities.
Quax emphasizes how photographs travel and how family albums become the migrant’s deeply personal possessions, in the process becoming a source of longing for families left behind, irretrievable times and lost intimate spaces.
You can order the book here.
Size: 17 x 24,5 cm, soft linen inside cover, four multifolded posters and seperate text book
Text: Salah M. Hassan
Design: René Put
Publisher: Timmer Art Books
Price: € 18
Developing a critical understanding of the wave of new migrations of African people across borders of environments and cultures, as well as modes of resistance, presents an urgent necessity. We must establish platforms for knowledge production to fill in the glaring gaps in understanding the cultural and political dynamics of a world in motion, and to focus on unearthing the root causes and consequences of new migrations in Africa and the West. Situating this phenomenon within historical, sociocultural, and artistic points of view will advance important frameworks for understanding the complexity of migratory flows of a disadvantaged population whose dreams and aspirations for a better life often get curtailed by powerful state practices.
Each of Quax’s photographs is a stand-alone canvas, in which the artist’s command of the medium transforms the scene into a compelling work of abstraction, while avoiding an over-aestheticizing act that would have compromised the depth of the conceptual aspects of the work. The empty rooms, which have been nicely kept for the most part by the families of these young men, speak volumes of the hopes, sadness, and fear felt by these families as they ponder the destinies of their loved ones beyond the treacherous seas.
Salah M. Hassan is an art critic, curator and Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture at Cornell and Princeton University, USA. Together with Okwui Enwezor he founded NKA Journal.
“Clothing” is the name of a series of Dutch photographer Judith Quax – just this. Clothing is also what is visible on her puristic photographies: shirts and jeans on a deserted beach. Sand and water infiltrate the sleeves, inflate the trunk and take the shape of the body clad in those clothings just yet. (…)
The disembodied portraits of “Clothing” seem to continue Judith Quax’ first Senegal series: For her 2007 “Immigrants” she captured the abandoned rooms of young migrants. Lumpy mattresses, fluttering curtains, an everted shirt in the surf: Quax shows West Africa as an abandoned place. This aesthetic of absence also illustrates the fundamental nature of African migration to Europe: From the moment they leave, the migrants become invisible, clandestine, illegal. Even those of them who have reached the “Fortress Europe” without adversities and without being noticed, live here in secret, without doctors, social support or legal representation. (…)
– Christina Felschen