Work on progress…

« There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in »

For the first time in my artistic life, I am walking blind. I have always had very precise ideas and pictures in my mind of what I wanted to produce but this time, my inspiration depends on the others. Those who know me also know that I sometimes go through scary moments of blockages and doubts. I am afraid that nothing could come out. I don’t know where this new topic will lead me but what I know is that I do trust in people and in learning by listening.

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Nyumbani

The subject I am currently working on is the adaptation of migrants to the global culture of fast growing cities. I have embarked on field to listen to the infinity of singular migrants stories and choose the specific pictures in their stories that capture my attention (to be engraved in glass). I am interviewing and filming people who are settled in the city of Dar es Salaam since one or several generations to try to understand how they integrate parts of the new environnement while preserving their own cultural particularisms and singularities from an assimilation by a new global culture. What do they give and receive or how moves of people and migratory flux can influence culture.

Home

I returned yesterday

As if I never left 

All seems so far away

Trying to find my weft

Nothing has changed

The houses still arranged

In a perfect form

I don’t want to conform

It’s so desolate here

the grey sky is above

to fall down on the ground

reveals nothing but wounds

I recall blissful tender days

Filled hearts of impatient joys

 All is calm now

Painfully slow

Their pleasure to wait

Could be the only strait

And I am so afraid

Watching their monotony

Like a deep masquerade

They might infect me 

Many horizons, many destinies (engraving in glass)

I arrived in the city of Dar es Salaam eleven years ago. This megalopolis, between tradition and modernity, nature and anachronic urbanism, has immediately started to fascinate me as a pure symbol of hybrid cultures. Coming from printmaking, I am still patterning on and I have started to observe maps. I have been attracted by the topographic drawings, the historical urbanistic changes of Dar es Salaam and the flow of migration.

On parallel, my research about time is still ongoing, now with the added questions of rooting and uprooting which leads to my main current concern : where and what is home ? This question is especially important in the way we all deal with the call of somewhere else and the need to feel our own roots, in the Third Culture Kids phenomenon to understand the way migrants keep on transmitting their culture to their children in a new host country. What is their heritage ? Can roots and traditions vanish with memories ? What is the effect of time in belonging and attachement ? Is the nostalgia innate or learnt? Is our soul destined to be divide.

My engravings are for me a way to synthesize theorical researches and concerns with my love for cities’ patterns on the ambivalent medium of glass which is fragile but strong at the same time.

Daraja la utamaduni (installation)

The aim of an art residency is to take time out of the time to create but also to exchange with local artists. That is how I decided to do this installation as a tunnel to dig and question my personnal link to the subject. Roots and belonging had already been part of my work. The very basic question of home is much more complex that what we want to trust and we are not as simple as we would like to seem but made of complex branches and connections, places where we have lived, people we have met, as a spider web. For this project, I worked with the amazing Wachata Graffiti Crew who embarked my foggy idea and who understand it as a bridge or the best way to link two cultures or artistic worlds. It is a collaborative work and every artist at Nafasi has been welcomed to add (weave, tight, draw) his own piece to the puzzle.

Borders I, II (drawing and papercuts on maps…on progress)

Borders tend to distend, borders tend to dissolve. Symplifying a problem by finding scapegoats is a delusion. It is like refusing to observe reality with the eyes of humanity. Despite growing demonstrations of protectionism, nationalism and racism, there will always be only one world. We are all interested parties and it is time to redefine what is common between us. By essence, we are not born to live enclosed in one identity or culture. And to live with others supposes shared origins in vulnerability. This vulnerability has to be lived and understood as a way to weave links and create solidarity not to destroy. The history we have been given and the one we are building everyday lies on ignorance, omissions and failures. Now we can begin to be conscious of the complexity of our modernity. We have to stitch all those discontinuities and breaches to create a common world, however fragile and precarious it may be – that depends on the will, choice, imagination and creativity of humanity. In reality, what we call identity is not essential ; we are all passers-by while an emerging universal conscience is coming out, the reality of a new community with the same destiny should take it over the cult of difference.

Breathing bags (installation…on progress)

The more we close the borders, the more people will settle as they are not able to move on or to go back anymore, being irrugelar. The more we open the borders, the more we free the circulation or migration. It is common sense but what is happening in the world now seems to go in the opposite direction which is nonsense. For me, the idea of borders itself is difficult to accept (and even more the idea of material possession of land) as it is where most of the conflicts start. With the demographic current changes in the world (aging of the developed nothern countries and the very young average age of countries in developement) the situation might change quicker than we think. It will be a nice potential return of the situation to see those countries which use to select the entrances finally compete and beg for migrants.