series photographs
Photographs from the series "Djingareyber", by Tiécoura N'Daou. Photo: Disclosure.

In the new episode of the VB Commented Collection, ambassador Irene Vida Gala [1] talks about the history and culture of Mali, a West African country with a strong presence in the videobrasil. Resuming feats and characteristics of the Mali Empire, she comments on the video faraw ka taama (The journey of the stones), by Seydou Cissé, and the series of photographs from the series djingareyber, by Tiecoura N'Daou.

“In the work of these artists, we perceive the presence of traditional religions. We realize that, in a deeply Islamic country, references to traditional religions and animism remain. It is interesting that when Islam arrives in West Africa, it is quite permeable to dialogue with the local religion. There was no attempt to impose the new religion. This Islam became a hybrid Islam”, says Vida Gala.

She highlights that “there is also a very evident discussion between the traditional and the modern. For a contemporary artist – from an Africa that is completely contemporary today -, bringing to the public reminiscences of his past and his tradition is an affirmation of his identity”.

The ambassador points out this characteristic in the work of Seydou Cissé: “When we see, for example, in the film The Journey of the Stones, the formation of that dam, it is an element of the new, a reference to the colonizer who brought it to the country even before its independence. Then a mother and daughter appear, one dressed in western clothes, the other in traditional clothes; that is no accident. The daughter indicates that the dam was useful for them, and the mother, traditionally, indicates that it was an element of sadness”.

Such duality is also referenced by the art critic and curator Joëlle Busca emphasizes that “as animation gives movement to the image, the magic of these legends merges with that of cinema to bring to life the hundreds of thousands of workers sacrificed to the pharaonic construction of the Markala dam. The images are projected, in the literal sense, like the whip. Pushed by the magic instrument, the stones roll down the slopes and pile up in the right order to build the walls.”


The second work commented on by Vida Gala is djingareyber, by multimedia artist Tiécoura N'Daou. A photographic series composed of eight images, djingareyber talk about the Timbuktu mosque, occupied by terrorists in 2013 in Mali. The photos show the restoration of the site by the population of the city, in an attempt to preserve their heritage. The records feature a traditional plastering ceremony that brings together women, men, youth, children and the elderly. The ritual is a testament to Timbuktu's communities of the efforts made to restore local heritage and cultural life, so rich before the conflicts.

Concluding her comment, the diplomat emphasizes the importance of orality in the transmission of cultures on the African continent: “Both of the works that we commented bring a reference to what was a legend, the oral record of tradition. When the white man arrives to colonize Africa, he arrives with an ideology that Africa had no history. This lack of history would justify the presence of white people to colonize. But African societies are societies of an oral history”.

About the Commented Collection

Videobrasil Commented Collection is a new partnership between arte!brasileiros and Associação Cultural Videobrasil. Every 15 days we publish, on our platform and on our social networks, a part of its important collection of works, gathered in more than 30 years of trajectory. 

A institution was created in 1991 by Solange Farkas, the result of the desire to host a growing collection of works and publications, which has been gathered since the first edition of the Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil (still Videobrasil Festival, in 1983). Since its creation, the association has worked systematically to activate this collection, which brings together works from the so-called geopolitical South of the world – Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East –, especially video art classics, own productions and a vast collection. of art publications.

This project contributes to “rediscovering and relating works from the Videobrasil collection, and thematic aspects, in the voice of critics, curators and thinkers, illuminating urgent contemporary issues”, says Farkas.

[1] Graduated in Law from USP, she completed the Rio Branco Institute in 1986. She is an Ambassador and has a 35-year diplomatic career. He served at the Brazilian Embassies in Lisbon, Luanda and Pretoria, in addition to the Brazilian Mission to the UN and the Consulate General of Brazil in Rome.
At Itamaraty, in Brasília, he was head of the Southern Africa Division. She was Ambassador of Brazil in Accra, Ghana, until February 2017. Her career is closely associated with posts, missions and visits on the African continent, having carried out temporary missions at the Brazilian Embassies in Bissau, Dakar, Maputo and Lusaka, among others.
Launched the MONUEM – ERESP project, which takes the UN model simulations to public high schools in the state and municipality of São Paulo.
It is in the documentary “EXTERIORES – Mulheres Brasileiras na Diplomacia” (2018), which records the XNUMX years of women in the diplomatic career.

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