Inspired by the work of the writer Emmanuel Dongala, Le Feu des origins, will run until 4th November in Ouagadougou celebrating contemporary crafts and art.
Founded in 2018 by photographer Nyaba Léon Ouédraogo and dealer Christophe Person, the Biennale BISO has opened its doors at the FESPACO headquarters until 4th of November. The exhibition is preceded by several weeks of creative residencies in the heart of Burkina Faso’s capital. Find some beautiful impressions here.
Curator Louise Thurin explains the theme of this year’s event, which focuses on questions of Africanness, Afrodescendence, the Black Atlantic and the Global South: “A classic epic recounting the transmutation of an African territory and people by European colonization, The Fire of Origins is the second novel by Congolese author Emmanuel Dongala. It was awarded the Grand Prix littéraire d’Afrique Noire in 1987. Its main character is Mandala Mankunku, “blacksmith, son of a blacksmith” and “master sculptor: in wood, bronze, stone” – a hero who will ardently resist colonial rule with his art. He has astonishingly green eyes – “glaucous, lime-green, phosphorescent eyes”, “the green eyes of a nyctalope fawn” – the same as his ancestor, Mankunku the Destroyer, after whom he is named. Through the will-o’-the-wisp copper eyes of his protagonist, Emmanuel Dongala becomes the chemist and observer of a new African intellectual and spiritual paradigm, a synthesis of Africa’s own holistic sapience augmented by the sum of globalized knowledge. We find this alloy in the arts, where ancestral craft techniques – sculpture, beadwork, metalwork, textiles, ceramics, painting – are perpetuated with their technical evolutions in the contemporary world by artists from the Continent, its diasporas and elsewhere. The animistic, matrix-like fire kindled by the work evokes the passionate relationship that each of us can have with our intimate geographies – and echoes in a related way the eruptive, all-consuming character of origins in an Afro-descendant context. We find it in the work of Guadeloupean poet and novelist Daniel Maximin, who develops a Volcanism, an ode to the molten magma of Creole individualities (Soufrières (1987), L’isolé soleil (1989), L’invention des désirades (2000)… ), in the fiery verbiage of Haitian James Noël, reflecting a poetry and an island “in a state of pyromania” (Le pyromane adolescent (2013), Des poings chauffés à blanc (2010), Le sang visible du vitrier (2009). …) and finally, in the work of African-American James Baldwin, in the crucible of the inferno of American identity in The Fire Next Time (1963).
Sculpture is – we believe – the original and regenerative fire of art in Africa. The choice of this book as the title and theme of this 2023 edition of the Biennale internationale de sculpture de Ouagadougou (BISO) is a tribute to the Burkinabe metallurgical tradition, to the fire of the furnace and the forge. May the Fire of our origins continue to burn through art, through us.”
Artists participating in the 2023 edition of BISO
Rachel Marsil (France/Senegal), Boukaré Bonkoungou (Burkina Faso), Steeve Bauras (Martinique, France), Demba Camara (Ivory Coast), Mélinda Fourn-Houngbo (France/Benin), Koffi Mens (Togo / Burkina Faso), Aline Poco (France/Burkina Faso), Hamidou Koumaré (Mali), Louisa Marajo (Martinique, France), Sadikou Oukpedjo (Togo/Ivory Coast), Samuel Nnorom (Nigeria), Evans Mbugua (Kenya/France), Shaka (RDCongo), Hervé Youmbi (Cameroun), Aïcha Snoussi (Tunisia), Mohamed Keïta (Mali), Abou Traoré (Burkina Faso), Hyacinthe Ouattara (Burkina Faso), Sébastien Boko (Bénin).
The BISO 2021 and 2023 jury
Abdoulaye Konaté (Mali), Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon), Jean Servais Somian (Ivory Coast), Ky Siriki (Burkina Faso), Illa Donwahi (Ivory Coast), Gauz (Ivory Coast) and Hamady Bocoum (Senegal)
Grand Prix BISO 2023 X Fondation Donwahi: Sadikou Oukpedjo (Togo /Ivory Coast)
Galerie Vallois Prize: Koffi Mens (Togo / Burkina Faso) & Mélinda Fourn (Bénin / France)
Prix Jean-Claude Gandur: Demba Camara (Ivory Coast)
Galerie Christophe Person Prize: Rachel Marsil (France / Senegal) & Hamidou Koumaré (Mali)
FESPACO headquarters – Open-air cinema
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso