ECHOS is a collective exhibition, which invites six artists to encounter the environment by interrogating the place of human beings and their impact.
Aàdesokan Adedayo, Ayo Akínwándé (Nigeria), Younes Ben Slimane, Mohamedali Ltaief (Tunisia) as well as Fatim Benhamza and Amine Oulmakki (Morocco), alert the public to environmental problems and thus echo alerts from around the world of science.
By addressing the issues of waste management, the consequences for nature and living beings and – despite everything – the hope of being rescued, the artists reveal through different media such as installations, photography and video the reality experienced in Africa from the environmental prism.
The challenges of change
One time upon a globe, a transformation occurred; the switch to a life, the switch to a culture, the switch to a mansion, the switch to a machine, the switch of air to the air of pollution. How the landscapes went from green to filth and how they are to become the grey spring of this era.
The words of Stanley Ambrose incarnate an apparatus of a time when in Africa, art and rituals flourished in harmony with nature; “When Stone Age herders came to eastern Africa 3,500 years ago, they changed vegetation patterns for the better, rather than degrading the savanna1, as is often believed”, Ambrose said. “Their abandoned settlements increased savanna grassland ecosystem diversity, resilience and stability.”2 Hence, all is history now and the trauma of a person can be spotted on vegetables, trees, soils, air, hazardous waste, ban and so on goes the list to match the ecological vocabulary. These interrogations raise a red flag, but to Africa and its people a white flag. ECHOS challenges the change, the matter.
In this dimension, the history of a person got looted and transformed into what it looks like today, a morsel of the hunger where the only spotted images are the ones of odds and ends.
Therefore, the biology of a person has turned into the disturbed ecology of others, and the surroundings of a person has become a no more than a litter where some joy could be grounded. Where is the problem, what are the consequences and, from a rhetorical standpoint, is contemporary art a reminder of a better air and a sunny Africa?
Where clear waters reflected the skies and gold flowed in the past, intoxicated and brown they became for the garbage flowing beneath and upon them. In the cleanest parts of the desert, sand dunes served bridges, only to find colorful plastic rhymes of all shapes and sizes. Ayo Akínwándé’s Climate Fools approach the question by grasping the flow of life in the tides of change.
Waste identity – Bola Bola living of Aàdesokan Adedayo revisits the scope of a situation. In a cohabitation with nature diminished in pieces of sunlight, come the landscapes of colors, in harmony with dunes of waste. A liner of time is cut for an eternity of a cohabitation and a remembering of a time that slowly fades away, that slowly sets the sight of these people’s limited eyes. A distant vision allows a dialogue between habitat and human intermigration, a personal microcosm and the hope of a better identity, or perhaps a wonderful country.
In this manner, Fatim Benhamz’s series What do you choose to see revisits the political theory of recycling, exhibiting and metamorphosing a space into a choice; a choice of life or a choice of silenced death. The garbage can be a means of transcendence and an extra key for the rebirth of wonderlands.
The journey of Fatim Benhamza culminates in the journey of Younes Ben Slimane. In his series All come from dust an infinity of movement restitutes the memory of a practice and development of a people. While retracing the fabrication of what will draw a nest upon a place, history holds preservation and retells the path of a living, promoting archaic practice and the modernity of its journey.
The wander, the trail, the stroll and the view. The one who has been present is now lost, the donkey has seen it all, the human-donkey, the witness of ecological loss. A walk of a wonder that he permitted himself along the jungle of concrete; he walks holding a life upon his back. The eternal link between man and earth is the olive tree, a savior perhaps, a citizen of a survive it is, the human donkey, the hope. Vaine tentative de planter un arbre by Amine Oulmakki reflects the firmness and peace of nature’s hoped-for victory.
The eternal link is here to stay, with the series Homrane by Mohamedali Ltaief. A body fits the harmony of nature, the coexistence, the transparency of a living and the connectedness to mother earth. In the nudity of a body, a speech sets up along the quietude of a forest and the cry echoing an internality. A primitive cry this series recites, a return to the earth it adds up, the necessity of that which makes us citizens of a forest, a land, an ecology.
1 A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem characterised by the trees being sufficiently widely spaced so that the canopy does not close.
2 Materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Original written by Diana Yates. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Fiona Marshall, Rachel E. B. Reid, Steven Goldstein, Michael Storozum, Andrew Wreschnig, Lorraine Hu, Purity Kiura, Ruth Shahack-Gross, Stanley H. Ambrose. Ancient herders enriched and restructured African grasslands. Nature, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0456-9
The exhibition is produced in collaboration with Heinrich Böll Stiftung Rabat.