The Citadel is a story told in three movements: mapping a route through discovery, loss, and renewal across the uncanny landscapes of contemporary Africa. In 2007, Mame-Diarra Niang returned to Senegal to bury her father after spending years away living in France. Her unequivocally intimate relationship with the African continent translates into a refracted representation in which the places before Niang’s lens are at once forensically studied and transformed into fabular non-places.
In Sahel Gris, the outskirts of Dakar, where infrastructural projects lay abandoned to the dust, evoke a state of permanent suspension between movement and inertia. At the Wall presents a prismatic interrogation of the surfaces and perimeters of Dakar, depicting a city eerily drained of human life yet dense with its traces. And in Metropolis, Niang steps finally into the belly of the beast, looking outwards from within the crowded urban superficies of Johannesburg, dazzling in the southern light. At the centre of Niang’s vision is the notion of ‘the plasticity of territory’, in which a personal investigation of place becomes indistinguishable from the photographer’s own metamorphosis, and landscape becomes a ‘material for producing many selves.’
In these works, collected here to form a sustained project, a deeply personal but rigorously analytic relationship with place emerges, offering a complex, layered image to offset historic, imperially motivated Western visions of Africa as a vacant land.
17 x 27cm, three volumes in an embossed slipcase (Sahel Gris: hardback swissbound with accordion fold, full bleed painted edges on uncoated paper; At the Wall: hardback, coated paper; Metropolis: paperback, Japanese fold, coated paper), MACK (London).