Great news: I have received an artistic development grant from the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts (AFK) to continue my work on connecting Africa and Europe, and specifically the Netherlands and Senegal.
The AFK jury says: “Your work is characterised by an authentic atmosphere, language and rhythm, both in narrative and in concept. Your work is both personal and universal: searching for identity and origin, parenthood and love.”
I visited the Cheikh Anta Diop University and the Senghor Foundation to research the visions of the great Senegalese intellectuals Leopold Sedar Senghor and Cheikh Anta Diop.
This weekend I am presenting “Voyage à Dakar” at “Regards sur Cours”, an art festival at Gorée island. I developed an installation in the library of a former colonial house, Keur Khadija, which is now used as a children’s home.
The children’s book “Leuk the Hare” written by Senegal’s first president Leopold Sedar Senghor, plays a special role in this installation: former school teacher El Hadji Mbengue, who lives at Gorée and grew up with the stories of Leuk the Hare, is reading the book.
This performance is combined with the projection of silent, poetic images of me and Noah Saliou who, together – against the migration flow – are crossing and connecting two continents.
It is interesting to present the work here in Senegal, where many people have mixed identities and shared their personal stories about Senegal, Africa and (be-)longing. Many people in Senegal know “Leuk the Hare” and shared their favorite stories. Also Noah Saliou’s grandparents came and loved to see the images and to hear the stories.
Three weeks ago Noah Saliou and me moved to Dakar, and this taxi made us feel at home; the same car as I drove from Amsterdam to Dakar. Noah Saliou started school here: a big challenge for him. But he is very courageous and I am so proud of him!
I will continue working on the Amsterdam Dakar road trip and start the research for a new project on the (post) colonial era in Senegal. We are both super excited!
Till Friday, Noah and me will stay in the Torenkamer residency in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam. I will continue working on the Amsterdam Dakar roadtrip and explore the theme of migration in a wider context. I will research the famous film Touki Bouki by Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty, on migration from Africa to Europe.
Read my blog on the residency here: Torenkamer (in Dutch).
Photoville invited me to present Voyage à Dakar at their photo festival and offered me one of the 70 sea containers in Brooklyn Bridge Park, right next to the Hudson river, from September 13-23. I created an intimate studio with handwritten texts from my travel itinerary and photos roughly clipped with magnets to the walls of the container.
Also read the articles on Photoville Dutch Talent Featured at Photoville and “immigration more relevant than ever” in the Guardian.
Thanks to: Mondriaan Fund, Paradox, Dutch Culture USA, PHOTOVILLE.
A reunion with our Mercedes in Senegal! We are still in touch with the new owner of the car. Children broke the star from the hood of the car, it is painted grey – blueish, it has a Senegalese number plate and is still strong and running!
The work I made in Dakar, in collaboration with Senegalese photographer Selle is presented as an installation at Mozaiek in Amsterdam: a beautiful multicultural space in North African migrants neighbourhood Bos & Lommer in Amsterdam. Eight screens are showing the photo montages Selle made and one screen is showing the interview with Selle on his work.
In Voyage à Dakar I focus on the connection between Europe and Africa. I took along the stories, but also literally baggage, photo’s and video material for families on both continents. The Senegalese photographer Selle made photo montages for migrants, using my portraits and photo’s from the migrants’ collections.
Inspired by his way of working and curious about collaborating, me and Selle together made a series of collages of film stills from the Amsterdam-Dakar journey.
The installation Soil in my Pocket will open at EYE Film Institute at February 14 and will run till March 7 2017 after sunset.
The première is part of the EYE on art programme with a Q&A on Soil in my Pocket by film critic Anna Abrahams.
Visit the Soil in my Pocket blog.