In this first trip to Senegal I wanted to have a clear idea of the future alliances and of the real context of artistic scene. Therefore I have travelled in the country in three steps. From the capital Dakar, to the small village of Diaken in Casamance, and through one of the most touristic places of the south o Senegal, Cap Skirring.
Arriving to Dakar I decide to stay out of the noisy center and found aplace in the island of Ngore. Known as a local refuge of artists in the city,this little island in front of the littoral gives me the possibility ofstarting a series of video interviews relating tourism and culture in thecentral theme. I meet Momar Ndiaye founder of Share project and we spend awhole day together discussing about cultural strategies and local context. Ialso meet Gaston Madeira (Youssou N’Dour manager), Djibril Diop Mambéty’s son(Cinema Director) and many other local producers creating residency spaces suchas the future art center for Issa Samb (Joe Ouakam) or Addoulaye Dialloresidency, also president of the Ngore artistic association. In this little ecosystem I can imagine afuture prototype of event, mixing scene arts, music and other disciplines. The island is deeply dedicated to tourism giving place to local andinternational tourists all over the year. Transport is made by small local boatday and night. The annual vacation touristic schedule is very much related tothe one in France, so Christmas, winter holidays and Easter are the main “temp forts”.
The first touristic destination of the south of Senegal is this littletown next to the ocean of 1800 habitants. Divided between the airport and theFrench luxury vacation complex “village club med” with a local fishing activityand other services for tourism. Is the center for many excursions of thisregion. The cultural scene is left aside for artisanal purposes and marketshows. Only at some parts of Oussouye we can find real artisans working potteryin Edioungour or other inclusive projects with disability women. The village ofCap Skyrring is a radical difference between the first class all-inclusivetourists and the rest of the people living outside. Part of the rebellionsduring the lockdowns came from the fact that regular local citizens don’t evenhave water at their homes. This place is an example of tourism as an actualcolonialism process. It is not nice to see, but it is part of the touristicreality of Senegal.
This small town of 900 habitants is part of the villages around themangroves. The biggest attractive is fishing and nature. But local culture isseen even from Dakar as the heart of their national identity. Dances, music,crafts, rituals, food and rural communities remain the center of the Casamanceand all Senegal. Here, I was invited by a project called “Centre touristic et culturel dela Casamance” where I spent two week producing portraits of the community withmy collaborator photographer Oscar Oliva. The experience of working throughpublic image was motivated by the idea of providing humble communities thepossibility of participating in a global and technological context. And also,producing a positive and beautiful image of Africans. This cultural center isvery well connected with the local community and provides room and food toartists, as well as some tools. (sewing machines, video projectors, 4x4 vehicleand sound system).