Bronze, ceramics, textiles, pearls, cathode screens, green plants… There is an abundance of materials exhibited at the Ouagadougou International Sculpture Biennial (BISO), in Burkina Faso. Metal statuary of course, but also works in wood, fabric, plastic, installations made with various materials …
Eighteen artists representing ten countries were selected for this second edition, whose works are exhibited until November 6 at the French Institute. Confirmed sculptors and visual artists, such as Turiya Magadlela and Buhlebezwe Siwani (South Africa), Pedro Pires (Angola), Mehdi-Georges Lahlou and Mehryl Levisse (Morocco), Ouadiata Traoré (Burkina Faso) or Charly d’Almeida (Benin) , according to Nyaba Léon Ouédraogo, photographer and co-founder of BISO.
With its Chimera, the young Mauritanian Oumar Ball won the first prize of the jury, which will enter the imposing collection of the Blachère Foundation. A work of which “The scenography is magnificent and energizes the espace, with a strange and unexpected material “ (oxidized metal plates, wire …), notes the internationally recognized artist Barthélémy Toguo, member of the jury.
The spotted hyena and the vulture
Born in the village of Bababé on the Senegal River, in Fouta-Toro, in the very south of Mauritania, Oumar Ball was raised by his paternal grandmother because his parents lived in Nouakchott, the capital. From childhood, he was lulled by animal tales that his grandmother told him. Stories where the hyena was omnipresent.
“Symbol of a wacky, greedy and opportunistic animal, the spotted hyena has become my favorite animal with the vulture, although they have never been friends since history exists”, states the thirty-something. Thanks to his father Issa, sculptor, painter and amateur photographer who made his toys for him, Oumar Ball began to do the same for the children of the village, with “Pieces of metal, flattened wire such as writing, cardboard and colored plastics”.
And the artist to underline: “I did not go to a fine arts school, but I had the chance to participate in residencies in Spain, in France, to exchange with other artists, to learn different techniques… I arrived in Ouagadougou one month before the opening of the biennial. This allowed me to go to the markets to pick up rusty sheet metal, scrap metal damaged by time and life, in order to play on the nuances. “
“The idea came in a dream”
Kader Kaboré works with wood and mats. These are very present in homes because they are the first mattresses for those who cannot afford beds. The winner of the encouragement prize braids them, distresses them, draws them. Passed by the Boulle school then the National Superior School of Industrial Creation (Ensci), in Paris, the young thirty-something native of Ouagadougou is inspired by the Burkinabe sculptors Ky Siriki and Senegalese Ousmane Sow, the Cameroonian plastic artist Barthélémy Toguo, the great painters surrealists (Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Joan Miró…).
“The idea of working with mats came about in a dream. And the next day, I went to buy one at the market. I like anything that can take me on a trip, awake or not. I am also a woodcarver. I collect parts from nature and store them in the workshop. Then when they talk to me, I start to work on them ”, relates Kader Kaboré.
His work, like the Chimera Oumar Ball, illustrates this “ambiguous adventure” that the organizers wanted to stage. The theme of this biennial is a reference to the eponymous novel by Senegalese writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane. In this great classic of African literature published in 1961, the hero, Samba Diallo, is sent to the school of the Whites and finds himself shaken between his Fulani heritage and European culture. Through this theme, the artists were invited to explore the complexity of African identities in a globalized world.
“We had to prepare this second edition in a heavy international context, both from a health, political and societal point of view. We wanted to urge artists to explore what is in their stomachs ”, emphasizes Christophe Person, director of the contemporary African art department within the Artcurial auction house and co-founder of BISO.
“Art allows us to enter into a better understanding of the other. It is completely illustrated by what is happening in this biennial ”, welcomes Anne-Marie Harster, president of the French association Solidarité laïque, very involved in the fields of education, citizenship and human rights, and committed partner of the event.
“A family has been created”
One of the highlights of BISO was the residencies where the artists prepared their works before the opening of the biennale. “The stays lasted from a week to a month, depending on the nature of the works produced. Among the eighteen artists selected, sixteen were in residence in Ouagadougou: in their workshops for Ouagalais, at the French Institute, at the Hamed Ouattara studio, at the National Arts Center for internationals ”, specifies Louise Thurin, responsible for artist residencies.
“Sculpture is a form of expression that comes with its constraints. In a somewhat counter-intuitive way, it is for the sake of practicality that we have considered offering artists the possibility of designing and producing the works on site. For one or more weeks, people who did not know each other created together. They were confronted with the country, its riches and its difficulties. A family has been created ”, details Christophe Person.
Finally, the biennial off, coordinated by the designer and visual artist Hamed Ouattara, was a catalyst to stimulate local energies which mobilized to present more than a hundred artists in fifteen places of creation and exhibition. A presence that reinforces the dynamism of the city’s artist networks and their visibility at national and international level.
Following the first edition of BISO in 2019, some artists from off entered the in This year. This is the case with Yveline Tropéa, Sahab Koanda, Kader Kaboré or Abou Sidibé. Others have been spotted and gained access to Parisian galleries.
BISO 2021 awards
Members of the jury for the Ouagadougou International Sculpture Biennial 2021: artists Abdoulaye Konaté (Mali), Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon), Jean Servais Somian (Ivory Coast) and Ky Siriki (Burkina Faso).
- First prize of the BISO jury (1,200 euros): Oumar Ball (Mauritania)
- Cuperior Collection Prize (1,000 euros): Dougnon Independence (Mali)
- Blachère Foundation Prize (1,000 euros): Ngozi-Omeje Ezema (Nigeria)
- Jean-Claude Gandur Prize (1,000 euros): Yveline Tropéa (France-Burkina Faso)
- Incentive Prize: Kader Kaboré (Burkina Faso)
- Secular Solidarity residency award: Ferdaws Chamekh (Tunisia)
- Cuperior Collection residency award: Pedro Pires (Portugal-Angola)
Ouagadougou International Sculpture Biennial 2021, at the French Institute, until November 6. Without forgetting the off in fifteen places of creation and exhibition spread across the city.