1) Why does the earth matter to you as an artist?
She is the mother - a living being - of all things and of creation. My commitment to preserve Her is obvious. I want to speak out about our choices which are concerned with, but not limited to, environmental questions. Critically urgent are issues such as reducing our carbon footprint and putting an end to the effects caused by man-made green house gasses. Our era is going through tremendous changes. We are living revolutions at every level, everywhere. For example the Technological Revolution and the Internet Era are changing our world; we are now all interconnected. We are starting to understand that what happens on one side of the earth affects the entire planet. I am curently using social media tools to spread hope & unity around the world (Clapyourhandsafrica art project). The question "Where are we going?" concerns the destiny of the earth. What is our purpose? It is vital for us to understand how to choose a path for evolution or else face the decline of our earth and eventually our own destruction. Year 2012, could be the end of the world, as we know it. But could this mean that 2013 is the dawn of a new beginning? A planet Earth with more humanity and a better conscience? A world filled with new opportunities?
Have we lost our way! My work exhibited, my question Where are we going?, placed into the context of "Earth Matters" questions our future, how to deal with life on the planet we live in, our search for meaning, alluding to the mysteries of the universe and our origins. Two hundred thousand years ago the Children of Africa were born - the Children of the Earth! Have they forgotten what they are, who they are, where they come from? Through my works, I attempt to generate a thought, a response to the questions: Where are we today? Why are we here? Where are we going?
The contemporary artist as a "shaman" will have to help shape a more harmonious world/earth/planet. The artist will create works of art that are more relevant to the awakening and the development of consciousness. The contemporary artist will create oeuvres that pose questions and that trigger replies about a very long list of challenges, such as, the arts, religions, politics, hunger, food and water, poverty, terrorism, modern slavery, child abuse, immigration, education, health care, jobs, unemployment, economic decline, emerging economies, fair trade, nuclear and sustainable energy, new technologies & innovation, communication, transport, science & sustainable agriculture, loss of family values and domestic violence, prostitution, the decay of society, conflicts and wars.... The contemporary artist, as a shaman, will open doors for the opening of the mind as well as the opening of the heart. We have the capacity to modify our misunderstanding and destructive behaviour and to unite ourselves towards the same cause, the creation of a better world.
This very feeling of belonging to the earth is rooted in my Gabonese culture/education of being in touch with the unknown. Gabonese perception of reality is not Cartesian - which sees the world as a thing separate from us, - it sees a world without limits, an animist world with magical qualities. It understands a quantum world, which not only perceives the earth but also goes beyond matter and what is visible.
My relationship with the Gabonese, "the land where I grew up, lived, worked, and framed my days", gave me the feeling of belonging to a more specific place. Today I still feel a sense of kinship with this territory - a sense of belonging nurtured by loving memories. This feeling is combined with a larger understanding inspired by a profound primordial knowledge, an intuitive metaphysical relationship with the Universe: we come from the unknown, where we all belong. Ultimately, we are part of the same reality where everything is interconnected. Africa seems to be where it all began.
1) In what ways do you hope that your work in "strategies of the surface" will change perceptions of the world around us?
Hope is a very powerful force able to transform the world. "Where are we going?" could, even for only an instant, change the perception of a few. "Where are we going?" represents a signpost placed in a desert, in the middle of nowhere, a no man's land, where nobody possesses their own territory - the result, no war, no fights. Faced at a crossroad in the desert - which path does one take? The journey goes on or stops. "Where are we going?" We need a path, a direction, hope. We need a driving force to re-establish our relations with the Cosmos. Millions of us are walking aimlessly. We are observing, powerless, our old world dissolving, a financial system collapsing, provoking a tsunami in the form of a global economical disaster. We are also observing a new world emerging, a world of new alternatives and opportunities. It is all is happening on our Earth.
May the work invite the viewer to constructive discussions about where are we going. The work exhibited is part of a series entitled "Interventions with Symbols", which most of the time includes a symbol of the family as my response for unity. Landscapes intervened are situated everywhere and nowhere and promote the idea of the Earth as a common land for a common soul. Posing a question that is a concern for all creates unity. We realize our sameness. The question "Where are we going?" parallels the same fundamental questions: Where do we come from? What are we? Who are we? And, ultimately, why? (Seen in other series of works).
"Where are we going? Tokyo" (included in the Earth Matters catalogue). We see a crowd, people walking, talking on mobile phones, not engaging with each other. We think of nuclear disaster and yet the artwork is aesthetically pleasing. Small signposts everywhere are warning them. Do they take notice? Do they see any warning signs?
"Where are we going? London" (included in the Earth Matters catalogue). A man is rushing to get into the underground - it represents urban behaviour.
The signposts are aimed at reconnecting the soul with our innate knowledge, something deeper. I call it "the absolute communication" or communication with the absolute reality. Our relationship with the Earth is absolutely essential. It has to do with our roots. Without our feet on the ground, we are deprived of this relationship. We feel disorientated, lost, we cannot breathe! Equally important is our connection with the heavens. I see Humans as totems, a bridge between Heaven and Earth.
We know that the Earth will be unsustainable for our children if we do not address and resolve all the issues that we are faced with, with the understanding that we are part of the same humanity. The artist has to actively participate in the debate and take action. "Where are we going?" is asking us to connect, to act, to re-empower ourselves, to make a difference
Yes, I am truly hoping that my small work and my big question will touch the soul of a few. I thank you all very much for giving me this opportunity.