Universes in Universe

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Art project by the Senegalese artist for the event "Universalism at stake? Dialogues with Senghor".
By Maria Thereza Alves | Feb 2004

Kan-Si, a Senegalese artist with roots in Joal-Fadiouth, has for several years carried out his own individual work as an artist while at the same time also working with "Huit Facettes", a collective committed to the "decentralisation of culture by setting up cultural, economic, and social development poles (in peri-urban and rural zones)". Kan-Si's project was completed while we were there and it gave an unequivocal indication of the dialogue that had begun between the community and artists.

Kan-Si's project, "Le Pont des Regards" (The Bridge to Look at Each Other) involved the community of the island of Fadiouth, a popular tourist stop due to the fact that the island has maintained its Serere traditions. The island is reached from Joal by an 800-meter footbridge. Kan-Si became interested in the representation of the inhabitants, photographed by tourists as 'the Other" to be shown around back home in France. "The look that one has of the other, and as a result, that which the other also has of us" is part of the text explaining the project, placed at either end of the bridge.

Kan-Si provided participating community members with cameras and inversed the roles: participants used the cameras to photograph tourists only. After photographing one tourist, Kan-Si was told by the man that he was not allowed to take his photograph. Kan-Si challenged him, saying that he had just seen the tourist take a photo of a local person. The tourist then said that Kan-Si should have asked him for his permission. Kan-Si pointed out that the tourist had not asked the local person.

Other confrontations led tourists to reflect on their actions and finally accept being photographed. The photos of the tourists were then lined up along one side of the bridge facing photos of the participants with their cameras. One day after the photographic installation was up, I listened to locals challenging anyone with a camera, whether a photograph had been taken or not. Kan-Si 's project provided the community with a forum in which its members could engage with the tourists on the predicament of photographing the "Other". The dialogue continues…

Maria Thereza Alves

* Brazil. Artist and author, co-founder of the Partido Verde (green party) in São Paulo and former representative of the Partido dos Trabalhdores (workers' party).

© Photos: Maxence Denis

Kan-Si: Le Pont des Regards
(The Bridge to Look at Each Other)

Art project in the public space for the event "Universalism at stake? Dialogues with Senghor", International workshop and exhibition at public spaces in Joal-Fadiouth, Senegal

December 2003 - April 2004

Face a Face
Group 30 Afrique
Huit Facettes Interaction
University of the Littoral

Curator: Marie Therese Champesme

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