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Djibouti’s Artists

I wrote for a couple of books last year and didn’t get to see the actual books for months and months. But now, I have them in hand and am happy to share them with you.

I wrote the introduction to an art book and have one (my first) published photograph in the other.

Here are the books and where you can find them.

Imago Mundi, the Luciano Benetton Collection. Art that breaks the isolation: Contemporary artists from Djibouti, Central African Republic, and Chad

The book is a gorgeous, hardcover collection of paintings from these African nations, with translation in English, French, and Italian. I was asked to write the introduction for Djibouti’s artists, one of the biggest honors I’ve felt so far in my writing work.

My intro is titled Djiboutian Paintings: Revealing What Is Hidden and it is based on the line by Rumi, in Story Water,

Water, stories, the body,

All the things we do, are mediums

That hide and show what’s hidden

The book brings together art and artists, who usually work in isolation here, and cumulative effect is one of beauty, depth, and hope.

This book is available from the Frabica store in Italy, here.

Other books from the collection are available on Amazon, like this one featuring artists from Senegal.

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And here’s the book with my photo in it.

En Verden Af Fodbold, by Pelle Mortensen

This is a compilation of incredible football (soccer) photographs from all over the world, including one from Djibouti, one of the few photos showing girls playing football.

The photos are so much fun, kids and adults enjoying play in front of the Eiffel Tower, in Marakesh, barefoot, on beaches, Mogadishu, mountains, schools…

The captions are not translated into English, but the book still makes a fabulous coffee table book for football lovers anywhere.

You can purchase a copy here.

It isn’t available on Amazon but if you only buy stuff from this one behemoth and are inspired to purchase a book like En verden af fodbold, here’s another football (soccer) photography book: Magnum Soccer.

Art in Djibouti

Quick link: The Color and the Shape

Writing over at EthnoTraveler today about Djiboutian artists. This picture is from last year’s Independence Day, painted along a wall near the center of town.

Art in Djibouti

Yahye is a Djiboutian painter. Before I met Yahya, I confess, I had low expectations. I had seen Djiboutian paintings, or thought I had. Rows of them lean up against the curb by the Oil Libya gas station near the port. More paintings line the sidewalk across from the Cinquiéme grocery store.

These paintings are garish: orange sunrises with little nuance or depth of color, women carrying babies, their bodies devoid of dimension and personality, trees sketched with no character, animals painted with little imagination. One unrealistic painting shows camel sillouhettes in front of a towering acacia tree on the shore of a mountain-ringed lake. Another has two camels walking between mountains toward a cartoonishly red, orange, green, blue, and white starkly rendered rainbow.

The only people who buy these paintings are tourists and expatriates and I often wondered where they wound up once they got home. I wondered about the artists and I wondered if this was the best Djibouti had to offer. I knew there had to be more. But where to find it?…

Click here to read more about Yahye and the struggle of Djiboutian artists to find a way to encourage each other and display their work: The Color and the Shape

 

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