July 2, 2012 - RAW MATERIAL COMPANY - ABSENCE: 3 perspectives on departure
July 2, 2012

ABSENCE: 3 perspectives on departure

Adamantios Kafetzis, Judith Quax, Vincent Michéa
ABSENCE: 3 perspectives on departure

29 June–13 October 2012

Opening: Friday, 29 June, 6:30–9pm

Raw Material Company
Center for art, knowledge and society
4074 bis Sicap Amitié 2
BP 22710 Dakar, Senegal
Hours: Tue–Sat, 10–8pm

T +221 33 864 0248


The group exhibition ABSENCE: 3 perspectives on departure features three European artists working on issues related to migration, religion, and popular culture in Senegal. While most exhibitions around migration tend to look at the trans-national political and geographical space, this exhibition focuses on intimacy and privacy. The perspectives are those of the migrants; what they leave behind them and what they recreate at destination to build a sense of attachment.

A subtext of the exhibition is the recurrent presence of the representation of Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, founder and supreme leader of the Mourid Brotherhood—a Sufi-oriented Islamic current strongly established in Senegal.

The series of four photographs by Adamantios Kafetzis is built around the idea of the recreation of the self in a foreign environment. Kafetzis lived with various immigrant communities in Greece and produced a visual narrative of their lives in relation to their faith. The series about Senegalese immigrants in Athens shown in this exhibition portrays a site of their religious practice. The photographs are composed like conceptual paintings with a strong sense for icons. They convey a feeling of religion as a retreat and refuge. Bamba’s portrait serves as an icon for many Senegalese migrants. It is in him that they place all their hopes and desires for better life.

Judith Quax created a portfolio documenting the absence of young immigrants from the fishing communities of the Senegalese coastal towns. The precarious conditions of the new waves of African migration to Europe provide a backdrop to her photo essay Immigration Clandestine, a work in progress started in 2007. Working in a minimalist conceptual style, Quax photographed the bedrooms where young men had lived before they embarked on their journeys. The photographs of the empty rooms attempt to capture their absence and the longing of their relatives left behind, often without any news of them for a long time. The absence of the bodies of the missing ones haunts the viewers and forces them to imagine the present and future of a youth aspiring for a better living conditions beyond the confinement of a crisis-ridden nation state.

Vincent Michéa presents 24 drawings that intertwine Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba’s portrait with Rastafarian lyrics of freedom and resilience. The drawings are a juxtaposition of Bamba’s ideas of self determination and religious independence with the howling cry of the black man’s liberation. As a fierce opponent to colonisation and advocate for an African interpretation of Islam, Ahmadou Bamba experienced long-term exile and alienation in the beginning of the twentieth century. By opposing Bob Marley’s slogans of redemption on Bamba’s portrait, Michéa’s drawings echoe the calls for independence and freedom that are still valid today and are widely appropriated by African youth in various manifestations of popular culture.

All three artists live and work between respectively Amsterdam, Athens, Paris, and Dakar. The exhibition is curated by Koyo Kouoh, and is accompanied by a catalogue with texts by Salah M. Hassan and Nick Skiadopoulos.

About Raw Material Company
Raw Material Company is a not-for-profit center for art, knowledge, and society. It is an art initiative unfolding within the realms of exhibition making, commissioning, knowledge sharing, and archiving of theory and criticism. It works to foster appreciation and growth of artistic and intellectual creativity in Africa. The underlying rationale of its program is a firm belief in visual arts as a potent tool capable of shifting perspectives, and to ignite engagement for art practice as a viable path for social and political transformation. The program is transdisciplinary, and is equally informed by urbanity, literature, film, architecture, politics, fashion, cuisine, and diasporas.

Raw Material Company is supported by private donors and Arts Collaboratory.



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