The work happened over two months in Johannesburg. At first, I was lost in the spaces of the inner city - the architecture gave me the uncanny feeling of being in New York during the 70's. As a visitor Johannesburg can be difficult to get a sense of or feel confident to move around in. I didn’t know what I would capture; I wasn’t really interested in producing a photographic essay about the post apartheid city or architecture in South Africa. The question that emerged was how to use the known and make of it something else.
Through interrogating my own presence there, I began to see the urban landscape as a structure or a kind of narrative where people, including me, are framed by the mechanism of the wall – a kind of dispositive of time and distance in space. The work is simultaneously a documentation of a specific territory and an un-anchored space.
I shot from a car very low on the ground and from a bus, always moving from a periphery to the center. I was always a passenger, always driven. This continuous movement led to shooting quickly, registering a sensation, creating an illusion, a deformation of landscape and the loss of a reality bounded by walls. This experimentation with perspective, moving at high-speed through space, gave me potentialities to abstract the landscape in the form of monumental urban structures. I never stay and in this I accept to miss some things, to lose others: it's always about the first look, the first image. It is the collecting or collaging of a visceral topography of space, walls and speed. This becomes another way to see, compose, construct or deconstruct a mythical space encoded by its own monumental memories; and to make it mine as well. I knew that the work would take a certain frame and I kept that first sensation as my raw material. The site begins to become something else,
something about the perception or illusion of another city. Conveyed by my lens, the novelty of moving forms enhances visual perception and invents a form of progressive variations.
After some time of wandering on my paths, my encounters with the many physical and imaginary walls in Johannesburg became almost like masks that could communicate a spiritual space .The images are mostly deserted, empty, with rhythmic geometric patterns and vibrant colours, a series of fragmented monuments. There are a few still human figures; I refer to them in the series by the names: "sentinelle, vigilia, satellite".
We who move through this space are trapped in a phenomenon, inside the illusion of a fortress, just one interpretation of all possible imaginaries. The flatness of my images makes the perspective into a surface of projection - a sleek space where the image or a glitch can appear within the Metropolis - a particular space which, in the act of looking evolves into the narrative of a territory.
Report on METROPOLIS
Mame-Diarra NIANG, Juillet 2016