Keep my narrative rich & alive

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These images were made on a ferry, during a recent trip to Gore Island in Senegal. The island is well known for its history of slavery during the Atlantic Slave trade, where the house of slaves can be found. What these images attempt to capture is the quiet, sombre mood on the trip to the island. Despite the island being a place many Senegalese now call home (with schools, churches and some farming) it carries its history on its back……too sizeable to ignore and too haunting to forget.

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The low exposure and high contrast in the images speaks to this duality that we as Africans and people of African descent have to live with. On the one hand existing with painful histories that inform how the present is forming while looking forward in creating a different future for our kids and their kids' kids. Finding strength in what we have endured but being careful not to glorify these histories under the guise of ‘resilience’ and ‘fortitude’. 

An important conflict when making images that tell of painful histories is treading the line between beauty and truth, thinking about defining the cost of beauty and navigating the fine line between authorship vs witnessing. I’m interested in how poetry of images can sometimes be more impactful than any amount of words could ever be. How beauty can be used as a vector to draw the senses in an attempt to move conversations forward….that’s what I attempt to do here. 

Boarding the ferry towards the island as symbolism for the boarding of ships towards a dreadful fate during slave trade. To even put yourself in that frame of thinking is unsettling and yet no amount of re-enactment could amount to the actual tragedy. 

These aren’t necessarily new or original thoughts on the slave trade but I believe it makes a difference to look at histories we carry through our own ways of perceiving and processing the world….thinking hard about the implications for our own lives and collective lives, while asking difficult questions and not letting anything slide. This is also a process of therapy that allows us to constantly and courageously confront the past. 

This series of images does not seek to  re-contexualise complexities of slavery but rather hopes to contribute to relating us to who we were, who we became and who we are becoming. Their aim is to be honest and thought provoking. They aim to keep our narrative rich and alive. 


Nkgopoleng MoloiComment