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Artists in residence with partners of the Belgian programme

Eva Diallo

Africalia went to meet the artists who have completed a residency with our partners in the Belgium programme, namely l'Atelier Graphoui and the Wiels. The aim was to gain a better understanding of their artistic backgrounds and practices, and to gather their impressions of the residency experience supported by the partner.

The first portrait is that of Eva Diallo, a visual artist and photographer dedicated to documentary work, mainly exploring the issue of migration. Her work captures the journeys of people leaving West Africa for Europe, offering a deeply human perspective on this often difficult journey. Her latest project, entitled "Bolol", delves into the journey undertaken by her two cousins who left Senegal for Europe.

Born in Switzerland to a Senegalese mother and Swiss father, Eva chose to settle in Dakar in 2018, after spending many holidays in her mother's native village during her childhood. Her early love of photography is rooted in family memories immortalised by her father, who gave her her first camera, an old Pentax. By capturing her own family and documenting life with her cousins in Senegal, Eva fears being forgotten and seeks to preserve these precious moments, humbly confessing her fragile memory.

Always seeking to talk about things that affect her, the theme of immigration quickly became an integral part of her work. After studying photography, she assisted a photographer in a refugee camp in southern Italy, where she noticed the imbalance in the media's portrayal of immigration, often focusing on Western fears without taking account of African perspectives. While she was in the camp, the personal experience of her cousins embarking on their journey to Europe inspired her to celebrate their courage through the "Bolol" project, "the journey" in Fulani.

Eva remains conscious of the privilege she enjoys of travelling without major administrative hindrances. She felt the need to move to Senegal after her studies, not only to be closer to her family, but also because her work had deep roots in West Africa, particularly Senegal. However, she acknowledges the frustration that her Senegalese peers sometimes feel about the difficulties of obtaining visas for cultural events, even though some travel within Africa is facilitated by the ECOWAS treaty on the free movement of people in West Africa. "Free-moving artists have a duty to speak up for those who do not have the privilege of a 'red passport'.

As part of a residency programme run by Wiels in partnership with Africalia, Eva has had the opportunity to live and work in Belgium, benefiting from a personal studio and the support of professionals. She also relished the exchanges with other artists in residence, which often led to rewarding collaborations. She particularly appreciated the sense of solidarity within the community of African and Afro-descendant artists in Brussels, recognising the unique value of this experience for artists from the African continent.

Eva Diallo,Bolol

Interview by Norbert Nzarubara.

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