STEVENSON is pleased to present Sama Guent Guii, a solo exhibition of new photographic works by Mame-Diarra Niang.
Printed on metallic paper and exhibited across the floors and walls of the gallery, the images in this body of work recede and refract to create a tableau of abstracted ‘non-portraits’, alluding to a subconscious realm. In Sama Guent Guii, translating from Wolof to ‘this dream that I had’, Niang explores how unknowing is formative in becoming.
The formal and conceptual motifs key to works in Niang’s series Call Me When You Get There and Léthé are extended here. While previous works have probed abstraction as a means of navigating the territory of the self, in Sama Guent Guii Niang uses ethereality as an affirmation of her refusal to portray blackness for herself and for others.
Through suggestive hues and elusive figures, Niang moves from speculation to representation. Following an introspective period of grappling with her upbringing across Senegal, the Ivory Coast and France, Niang presents an understanding of her embodied self as possessive of intricacy and infinitude. The artist offers the uncertainty of the blur as the seed of conviction, stating, ‘the forgotten dream is the necessary memory’. She writes:
I walked along with the lingering thought that I knew nothing about the history of my late father and the lineage of my black ancestors; my ancestral memory felt akin to the iridescent surface of a bubble, like a feeling of loss upon awakening from a dream impossible for me to recall.
This series feels like the abstract idea that I have of myself, the acceptance that forgetting is also a starting point and a fleeting, necessary memory. Sama Guent Guii, in which my memory is a dream.
We are never the same when we wake up.
I have to think about this more…
I see in me, deep within me, the traces of my ancestors. I am the past that resurfaces. A past that cannot be destroyed, nor diminished. I am the sedimentary rock of this fossilized past, the trace of living organisms... abstract in sensation... in reverie…
Where am I from? Who am I?
I am the past which reappears
I am what is transformed by their memories and my memories
I am these black bodies that I do not recognize
I am this blur
I am made of memory and oblivion
I am this monument of nature, this being that is continually being reborn
This other, who sees themselves as the other.
The exhibition opens on Saturday 8 October, 10am to 1pm.