It is exhibited a few meters from the Henriette Bathily Women’s Museum. “A Sacred Africa”, by the Exponentielles collective, is not limited to being a replica of the black continent with material from the sea. It reads like an ecological metaphor. It is intended to be the first step towards a museum dedicated to shellfish.
By Moussa Seck – In the background, between waves and winds, the work representing the map of the African continent remains the attraction of the Place du Souvenir Africain. Only, she has a twin near the Henriette Bathily Women’s Museum. Not in metal that one, but all in shells. It is a sacred Africa. It takes on a different look, with a material that is not without evoking a certain symbolism in the minds of its creators. It emanates from a dream: that of Madeleine Devès Senghor. To materialize it, she worked with Syra Bâ, Rouguiyatou Thiam, Maty Ndiaye Sy. They are easily recognizable with the shells that decorate their necks. And with them to discuss A Sacred Africa, a certain Penda Sow. The latter is a shellfish collector. She lives from this activity if she does not help her mother in the sale of breakfast in Almadies. His work is not without difficulty: shells are not just gifts from the sea. They can cause a gash on a finger. The winds and the cold do not help Mrs. Sow who often goes pearl hunting around seven in the morning. But she’s not complaining. Through it then, the artists who have created A Sacred Africa pay homage to the women who live from the exploitation of the treasures of the sea. “In sacred Africa, there is the mother. But today, with the shell, there is the sea that we must protect because it is plundered. It is also attacked on the natural level with the rising waters and global warming, which lead to the salinity of fresh waters.
A sacred Africa is not just a dream materialized with marine material. It is also a support that allows its creators to talk about ecology. Balance, too, which cannot be found without women being involved in the reflection, believes Maty Ndiaye Sy. Because they survive by fishing, among other things, in the mangroves, they sometimes cut off their tentacles and thus threaten the ecosystem that feeds them. Indirectly, these women upset a certain balance and become precarious. But, very fortunately, “they have found some tricks, because today they agree to apply ecological rest. They decide to accept practices that come from elsewhere to preserve the overexploited mangrove”.
The shell, this heritage
The work in shells is also a reflection of the discourse held by Exponentielles. The part of the work representing the black continent and made of shells rests on a metal support. The sculpture of the latter brings out the form of roots. Something that is reminiscent of the mangrove as a pillar. Pillar of an economic activity whose fruit constitutes one of the elements of the kitchen, this woman skilfully painted in the menu. The inlaid lady’s finger indicates Senegal. The country of Teranga is also represented with a singular shell, which sparkles among all the others. Apparently it’s not just aesthetics. It refers to another dream that Madeleine Devès Senghor harbors: that of a shellfish museum. An achievable dream and far from crazy, as evidenced by the intervention, after the panels, of the artist Germaine Anta Gaye. Quoting Einstein, she recalls that “imagination is more important than knowledge”. Concerning this museum wanted by Exponentielles, “the idea is to say that the shell is not a poor relation. It is a symbolic and real heritage. A heritage in divination with cowries. A heritage also in the habitat”. Reference will be made here to Fadhiouth, with its cemetery, its alleys, its houses. Also with the shell we make concrete and lime, as recalled by Maty Ndiaye Sy. This anticipation towards what the shell can be used for in the future, makes the Exponentielles collective say that its work has its source in the future. This, without detaching oneself from the past. Because the shell “is a heritage in the ancestral traditions which are renewed today with projects like the one supported by Enda in the Saloum delta”.
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The Exponentielles collective presents “A Sacred Africa”: Women, shellfish and ecological prospective – Lequotidien – Journal d’information Générale
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