Exhibition

Binta Diaw: Diaspora

Galerie Cecile Fakhoury, Abidjan, Ivory Coast (cote D`ivoire)
25 Sep 2021 - 01 Jan 2022

Installation, detail, 2021 © Binta Diaw

Galerie Cécile Fakhoury presents the solo exhibition of Binta Diaw, Dïà s p o r a in the Project Space of the gallery in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

A black wave floating a few inches off the ground. Humidity levels, slightly higher than that of the ambient air, a movement of life imperceptible to the naked eye but nevertheless very sensitive. The sensation of the organic that unfolds at all levels of the being, a sensory and intellectual dive. For her first solo exhibition in Abidjan, the Italian and Senegalese artist Binta Diaw dives into the rich history of African hair braiding and its central place in the transmission of vernacular knowledge. From the hair politics of the 1970s to more recent debates on the notion of cultural appropriation, African hair carries a set of semiological networks that have continued to fascinate the field of cultural studies in recent decades.

Binta Diaw, in particular, is inspired for this exhibition by the practice of braiding by African women in plantations. Some of them, revisiting traditional codes of hair ornaments, transformed the patterns of their hair into cryptic and evanescent cartography of the routes of marronage; those secret paths shared between slaves in an attempt to escape the plantation. Sometimes their hair, in addition to the abstract geographic tracings, contained seeds of the homeland at the heart of the weave, placed there by the women and carried away in hopes of finding a free home to scatter them again. The practice of weaving was affirmed as a practice of both resistance and perpetuation.

Dïà s p o r a, the title of the exhibition thus carries in its writing the fundamental notions to Binta Diaw’s artistic practice. The Greek origin of the word sheds light on the meanings that the artist wishes us to explore: «diaspora» is «disseminated – through». This term, whose most common meaning describes the state of dispersion of a people in the world, takes on its organic meaning in the artist’s monumental installation. The dispersion is also that of the seeds and with them, those of a culture of the earth, of a know-how and of the circulation of a living memory. The installation, like the practice of weaving in the past, asserts itself as fertile spaces from which the political and the poetic emerge together. Conceived as a collaborative work realized with Ivorian braiders, Dïà s p o r a is an immersive experience, with sensual poetry that gives to see by the purity of its forms, the extraordinary odyssey of an uprooted and nomadic humanity.

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