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DIASPORA

SELF-PORTRAITS 

2014

L’identité et la découverte – aussi bien au niveau collectif que personnel sont les thèmes principaux du projet « Diaspora » de Omar Victor Diop. Voyage dans le temps, cette série photographique révèle et approfondit une histoire rarement racontée sur le rôle des Africains hors

de l’Afrique.

 

De par ce travail, Omar Diop nous oblige à reconsidérer notre conception de l’histoire et il apporte des réponses à son perpétuel questionnement, à son dialogue avec lui-même sur son identité en tant qu’artiste et en tant que personne.

 

Omar Victor Diop, a commencé la recherche pour ce projet lors d’une

résidence de quatre mois en Espagne, à Malaga, où il se trouvait en position d’étranger. Pour ce premier chapitre, il s’est concentré sur l’Europe du XVème au XIXème siècle.

 

Inspiré par la multitude d’oeuvres d’art baroque créées à l’époque, Diop

envisage cette ère comme marquant le début d’une période d’interactions intenses (et auparavant inexistantes) entre l’Afrique et le reste du monde. En s’inspirant de portraits de notables Africains ayant marqués l’histoire européenne, Diop oppose et compare son parcours de vie et son héritage aux leurs, tout en retraçant les destins uniques des voyageurs et de ceux qui se trouvent dans un environnement étranger.

 

Pour la première fois, il se met lui-même en scène dans son art, adoptant

ainsi dans la position de narrateur et de personnage à la fois, et

s’obligeant à affronter directement ses propres doutes. Il fait référence au monde du sport, celui du football en particulier, afin de montrer la dualité d’une vie de gloire et de reconnaissance qui est aussi une vie passée à être « l’autre ».

 

On retrouve ce paradoxe aussi bien chez les footballeurs d’aujourd’hui que chez les hommes représentés dans ses auto-portraits.

 

Ambitionnant d’élargir son propos à l’Asie, les Amériques et le Moyen-

Orient, Omar Victor Diop espère que son travail pourra prendre place

au sein du débat actuel sur l’immigration et la migration, sur leurs impacts

et sur les accusations auxquelles elles doivent faire face. Il espère

également pouvoir changer la manière dont sont perçus les récits d’Africains découvrant le monde.

Texte par Raquel Wilson

Programmatrice Culturelle

 

Identity and discovery–at both the collective and personal levels–are themes in the forefront of Omar Victor Diop’s Project Diaspora. A journey through time, the photographic series delves into and exposes less spoken narratives of the role of Africans out of Africa.

 

With this body of work, Diop challenges us to rethink our own ideas of history and gives answer to his ongoing, internal dialogue of who he is as artist and person.

 

Starting his research during a four month residency in Màlaga, Spain, where he was immersed in the reality of being a stranger, Diop has focused this first installment on Europe during the 15th through 19th centuries.

 

Inspired by the many baroque artworks created during this time, he considers this period as an awakening of an intense (and previously nonexistent) era of interaction between Africa and the rest of the world. Using portraits of notable Africans in European history as his inspiration, Diop pits their life-journeys and legacies with those of his own, and further defining his intrigue of the singular destinies of travellers and those in alien environments.

 

Choosing, for the first time, to use himself as object in his artwork, he has delved into the realities of being both narrator and character, forcing him to face his insecurities head on, and uses references to

sport, football in particular, to show the duality of living a life of glory and recognition, while facing the challenges of being “other”.

 

Paradoxes he finds are shared between modern day footballers in Europe and the men of the original portraits depicted in his self-portraits.

 

With plans to widen Project Diaspora’s scope to Asia, the Americas and Middle East, Diop hopes his project lends to the current debates, accusations and impacts of migration and immigration, and

reshapes thoughts on the histories of Africans discovering the world.

Text by Raquel Wilson

Cultural Curator

A Moroccan Man (1913)
A Moroccan Man (1913)

José Tapiró y Baró was a Catalan painter. One of his closest friends was the painter Marià Fortuny with whom he shared an interest for Orientalism. He was a master of watercolor painting. Original Painting by José Tapiro y Baro.

Dom Nicolau (Circa. 1830-1860)
Dom Nicolau (Circa. 1830-1860)

Dom Nicolau, prince of Kongo is perhaps the earliest African leader who wrote publicly to protest colonial influences. Nicolau, protested against Portuguese commercial and political activity and military expansion by publishing a letter in a Portuguese newspaper in Lisbon. His exact birth date remains uncertain. Contemporary engravings of Nicolas during his visit in Lisbon in 1845 suggest that he was then perhaps fifteen to twentyyears of age.

Albert Badin (1747 or 1750 – 1822)
Albert Badin (1747 or 1750 – 1822)

Adolf Ludvig Gustav Fredrik Albert Badin, née Couchi, known as Badin, was a Swedish court-servant and diarist, originally a slave, butler of first Queen Louisa Ulrika of Prussia and then Princess Sophia Albertine of Sweden. His original name was Couchi, but he was commonly known as Badin, which means mischief-maker or trickster. Original Painting by Gustaf Lundberg.

Jean-Baptiste Belley (1746 - 1805)
Jean-Baptiste Belley (1746 - 1805)

Jean-Baptiste Belley was a native of Senegal, born on the Island of Gorée and former slave from Saint-Domingue in the French West Indies who bought his freedom with his savings. During the period of the French Revolution, he became a member of the National Convention and the Council of Five Hundred of France. He was also known as Mars. Original painting by Girodet

Juan de Pareja (1606 – 1670)
Juan de Pareja (1606 – 1670)

Juan de Pareja was a Spanish painter, born in Antequera, near Málaga, Spain. He is primarily known as a member of the household and workshop of painter Diego Velázquez. He later became Velazquez’s assistant sometime after the master returned to Madrid from his first trip to Italy in January 1631. Original Painting by Diego Velasquez.

Frederick Douglass (1818 -1895)
Frederick Douglass (1818 -1895)

Frederick Douglass was a social reform activist, writer, and statesman. He escaped from slavery, and later became a leader of the abolitionist movement, renowned for his impressive oratory and writing. His experiences as a slave have been narrated in several autobiographies which became bestsellers. He is also remembered for being the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States. Original portrait by: Samuel J. Miller

Don Miguel de Castro (1643)
Don Miguel de Castro (1643)

In 1643 or 1644 Don Miguel de Castro and two servants arrived as part of a delegation sent by the ruler of Sonho, a province of Congo, via Brazil to The Netherlands. One objective of the journey was to find a resolution to an internal conflict in Congo. Original painting attributed to Jaspar Beck or Albert Eckout.

August Sabac El Sher (C.1836 - 1885)
August Sabac El Sher (C.1836 - 1885)

August Sabac el Cher was an early Afro-German who was given to Prince Albert of Prussia as a boy in 1843 when the Prince was in Egypt. August grew to be embraced as a Prussian and married a white woman. The family history of the Sabac el Cher is also the story of a family of soldiers in three different German armies: under the Kaiser, Hitler and Chancellor Adenauer. Original portrait by: Unknown Artist

Kwasi Boakye (1827-1904)
Kwasi Boakye (1827-1904)

Kwasi Boakye was a Dutch mining engineer who was born a Prince of the Ashanti Empire. He was sent in 1837 by his king to the Netherlands to receive education, as part of larger negotiations between Ashanti about the recruitment of Ashanti soldiers for the Dutch East Indies Army. He was trained as a mining engineer at the fore-runner of Delft University, where he graduated in 1847. In 1850, he was sent to the Dutch East Indies. Original Portrait by : Unknown Artist

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (1701-1773)
Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (1701-1773)

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, also known as Job ben Solomon, was a famous Muslim who was a victim of the Atlantic slave trade. Born in Bundu, Senegal (West Africa), Ayuba’s memoirs were published as one of the earliest slave narratives, that is, a first-person account of the slave trade. He was enslaved about two Years in Maryland; and afterwards being brought to England, was set free, and sent to his native Land in the Year 1734. Original painting by William Hoare

Angelo Soliman (1721-1796)
Angelo Soliman (1721-1796)

Angelo Soliman was born in the Sokoto State in modern Nigeria. He was taken captive as a child and arrived in Marseilles as a slave. He was given as a gift in 1734 to the imperial governor of Sicily. After the death of Prince Lobkowitz, Soliman was taken into the Vienna household of the Prince of Liechtenstein, eventually rising to chief servant and royal tutor of the heir to the Prince, Aloys I. Soliman was highly respected and counted as a valued friend the Austrian Emperor.

St Benedict of Palermo (1526-1589)
St Benedict of Palermo (1526-1589)

Benedict the Moor, was an Italian Franciscan friar in Sicily who is venerated as a saint in the Catholic and Lutheran churches. Born of African slaves, he was freed at birth and became known for his charity. Benedict was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1743 and canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII. Benedict is remembered for his patience and understanding when confronted with racial prejudice and taunts. Original sculpture attributed to José Montes de Oca.

Olaudah Equiano (1745 – 1797)
Olaudah Equiano (1745 – 1797)

Olaudah Equiano known in his lifetime as Gustavus Vassa was a prominent African in London, a freed slave who supported the British movement to end the slave trade. His autobiography, published in 1789 and attracting wide attention, was considered highly influential in gaining passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807, which ended the African trade for Britain and its colonies. Original engraving by: Unknown Artist

Omar Ibn Saïd (1770-1864)
Omar Ibn Saïd (1770-1864)

Omar Ibn Saïd was an Islamic scholar, who was born in Futa Toro, a Northern province of what is now Senegal, where he extensively studied arithmetic and theology. He was enslaved when he was 25 and brought to the United States. Although he remained enslaved for the rest of his life, he authored a series of works of history and theology, but most importantly a very famous autobiography. Original portrait by: unkown Artist

Henrique Dias (died-1662)
Henrique Dias (died-1662)

Henrique Dias was a soldier born in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. He was born to freed slave parents. He led freed slaves with distinction against Dutch forces, and played important roles in decisive battles. For his courage and leadership, he was made a Knight of the Order of Christ by the Portuguese King. Original portrait by: Unknown Artist

Pedro Camejo (1790-1821)
Pedro Camejo (1790-1821)

Pedro Camejo, better known as «Negro Primero», or ‘The First Black’ was a Venezuelan soldier who fought with the rebel army during the Venezuelan War of Independence, reaching the rank of lieutenant. He was nicknamed «El Negro Primero» because he was always at the forefront of every battle. He was also to the only black officer in the army of Simon Bolívar.

Malick Ambar (1549-1626)
Malick Ambar (1549-1626)

Malick Ambar was an Ethiopian born in Harar, sold as a child by his parents due to poverty. He was brought to India. He eventually rose to become a very popular Prime Minister of the Ahmadnagar Sultanate, showing his administrative acumen in various fields. Malick is also regarded as a pioneer in Guerilla warfare in the Deccan region. He is a figure of veneration to the Siddis of Gujarat.

Ikhlas Khan
Ikhlas Khan

Ikhlas Khan was an African-Indian who was a chief minister to the Sultanate of Bijapur during the 17th century. He remained in power until 1683. He then moved to Adoni in the Kurnool district, where he governed and built a notable mosque