August 9 – September 9, 2018
ottawa art gallery: galerie annexe

a two-person exhibition with Shaya Ishaq

In 2016, I completed a month-long artist residency in Saint-Louis, Senegal. I arrived in Senegal, intending to complete a project about post-colonialism by photographing portraits of people who live in Saint-Louis, and photographing the city’s colonial architecture. By plunging myself into a country and city whose history could not be more intimately intertwined with colonialism, I naïvely thought that my anxieties around these subjects would clarify and resolve. Instead, my short time in Saint-Louis was deeply challenging for me. Initial culture shock gave way to anxiety, which emerged from my discomfort speaking French, my total inability to speak Wolof, my mental health challenges, homesickness, and my very visibly white, female, tattooed self.

I have come to realize that the only honest work I can make about this place must be about me, and my experience of it. This work depicts some of the people I met in Saint-Louis, the scraps that I collected throughout my time there, and some of the memories and thoughts that shape my understanding and recollection of my time there. I am conscious of the fallibility of photographs and memories, of the fallibility of my own interpretation of my time in a city, a country, a continent that is not my own. And yet I present these works.

Photographs can injure, even those that are gentle. Perhaps especially those that are gentle. Do these works complicate an understanding of Senegal? Do they create an understanding of Senegal? Do they undermine an understanding of Senegal? Do they tell any truths at all? It is for my viewers to decide.

  khalilou , 2016, photographic print on inkjet paper, 36in x 36in

khalilou, 2016, photographic print on inkjet paper, 36in x 36in