November 2011. Bamako “la coquette” is changing fast. The works in progress create the new image of the Malian capital. In the Sotuba area, near the “sino-malian friendship bridge,” Korean artisans build monuments over hundreds of meters, to commemorate the glory of the veterans. In this area looking as a war theatre, between construction and destruction, the sculptures made in the style of socialist-realist works from North Korea tell us a lot about the concerns of the state.
On January 20th, 2012, the Malian army celebrated its 50th anniversary and the officials inaugurated with great pomp the Avenue of the Army with the National Band playing and revived specially for the event. The Avenue of the Army is the symbol of a powerful military force, it is monumental and filled with signs of victory. A paradox at a time when Mali falls into one of its darkest periods in history.
Fifty years after the independence, African States strive to write their memory but chosen aesthetics are often foreign-inspired. Mali Militari is a fable that lets us imagine the dramatic situation that Mali knows, with an army unstructured, unable to cope with the jihadists who threaten the country’s political stability and much more.
For the past three years I’ve been documenting the reopening of a small sandstone quarry in Derbyshire, UK and on the edge of the Peak District National Park. The stone, known as Ashover Grit, is being used for conservation work on the nearby stately home, Chatsworth House. The quarry was last opened in the early 1900s and it is thought to be the source of much of the original stone used to construct Chatsworth House from 1687 onwards. The project to extract the stone is due to last until 2028 using low-impact, non-explosive quarrying techniques.
I’m using a variety of photographic equipment and formats, supplemented with sound, video and written evidence, to document the re-opening of the quarry until completion. I aim to self-publish a series of booklets throughout the project and exhibit a final sequence of work once the project is complete, subject to funding.
This selection of black & white film images are from January 2016.
My work focuses primarily on the idea of urban sprawling and the urban expansion of its periphery. I photograph urban banality as though it were a romantic painting, trying only to be “stronger than this big nothing” in controlling the space by framing the subject. My aesthetic of the banal obeys its own rules: a ban on living objects, a precise geometrical organization, and the revelation of a specific physical and mental landscape blurring the lines between city and suburb, between suburb and countryside, a process that results in an independent identity.
This aesthetic of the emptiness in my photographic work attempts to understand our current environment.