The moment we have all been waiting for has arrived – we are in full swing in Africa! Invited by the formidable Jennifer Houdrouge from The Chimney Gallery in New York, our biggest wish has finally become reality. We are here for ten days, roaming the west coast of Senegal and allowing serendipity to be our project manager. The results of these adventures will be exhibited as part of Chimney’s Le OFF – Dakar 2020 – Biennale de Dakar. The production of the prints is generously supported by Children of Africa MC and proceeds from sales will directly benefit the association, whose goal is to help children in Tanzania and Senegal in the improvement of living conditions through health and education. Feast your eyes on the following snaps from the first two shoots. More to come!
We met Mamadou at the school where he works as a French teacher, near the town of Fatick in the Sine Saloum region three hour south of Dakar. Mamadou is a passionate ambassador of local culture and history of the Serer people and was our invaluable connector, guide and translator around the village of Ndos.
Ayou (third from the left) was our first collaborator. We met in the shadow of the l’arbre à palabre, which is a tree and a traditional gathering place for speaking about life in society, the problems of the village, politics etc. It is also a place where children come to listen to stories by village elders. The woman on the right is Aïcha, our key to the seniors in the hood. She is a nurse, midwife, activist and the head of Stratégie Grand-mère, an organisation empowering and helping village elders. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Naturally, any involvement had to be thoroughly vetted through her expert advisory board. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Ndos is a farming community and right now it is the very beginning of the dry season. Some of the main crops in the area are millet and bissap (Hibiscus sabdariffa). To have one of these stripy guys around means good luck and a better chance of rain showers. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Ayou showed up in her Friday-best for her shoot. Mango trees have a special place in her heart, as they bring delicious fruit, refreshing shade and good fortune. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
This young Baobab and Ayou competed for the best pose in the village fields. The women in the village gather to pray for rain under a specific baobab. The original tree is only a hollow trunk now, so this teenager version was (at least by us) crowned as the successor site.
The team in full swing. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Ndos shepherd and sheep returning to the village for the night. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
The next day the village treated us with a feast of Thiof for lunch, spoons only for special guests. Teranga is a Wolof word you hear a lot in Senegal, meaning hospitality or welcoming generosity. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Little glasses of Attaya tea completed the lunch underneath the tree. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Jenny (on the left) put us in contact with Moussa (on the right), Moussa put us in contact with Mamadou (in the middle), Mamadou put us in contact with Aïcha, and Aïcha connected us with the grandmas and grandpas. Easy! © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
If you are ever in Dakar you can easily put your life in the hands of this gentleman without a care in the world. Moussa has been our compass, translator, driver, cultural navigator and all around hero during our Senegalese adventures. He has also worked with Jenny’s family for 25 years, supervising the flow of countless food trucks between Saly and Dakar, and making sure the family has been gently transported from a to b. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
We went off-piste to reach this glorious baobab tree, about 15 minutes from the city of Fatick. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
This was the morning Moussa branched off into contemporary art and Jenny became an EABAP runner and assistant. Both excelled in their positions. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Moussa we love you! © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen