In Wanderings, Anna Binta Diallo presents an installation of photographic collages in both two-and three-dimensions. The works consider how folk stories influence the formation of identity. Iterative in nature, the ongoing installation-based project shifts with each presentation, sometimes expanding into the exhibition space through sculpture.
Of her work, Diallo writes, “Casting a wide net on our Collective History, I reinterpreted folk stories and reimagined or reused them in my own way to create new mythologies. Using archives, books, found imagery, the Internet, memory, and oral traditions, I created a series of new images that can be continuously re-organized.” Figures and animal forms, constructed from varied sources, are scattered throughout the visual field. The figures are at once historical characters and deep space wanderers, their faces made of galaxies and landforms, wearing motifs “built from the textures, debris and remnants of various cultural inheritances. They wear the rich patterns of forests, black-and-white ethnographic drawings and vibrant purple fabric—infinitely alterable assemblages of what was and what is to come.”[i]
If photography freezes a moment in time, these collaged images release and recapture this moment, turning photographic fact towards expansive folklore. Diallo’s images reject a single truth, implicating myriad understandings of Self and Other. Drawing on a wide array of stories and perspectives, Diallo reveals the affinities and tensions that exist between these and the mythologies of her own Franco-Métis and Senegalese ancestry, striving to make work that questions and subverts patriarchal ideals and racism. Easing her subjects from their sometimes-heavy contexts allows them to be read simultaneously as specific and unfixed. As a whole, her project engages with Othering, the legacies of colonialism and slavery, language, and contemporary issues of migration/displacement, as well as the problematic definition of geographical borders, ultimately investigating identity as it relates to various histories, loss, nostalgia, and diaspora. Through cutting, pasting, and splicing photographs, Diallo builds new fictions.
“As a whole, her project engages with Othering, the legacies of colonialism and slavery, language, and contemporary issues of migration/displacement, as well as the problematic definition of geographical borders; ultimately investigating identity as it relates to various histories, loss, nostalgia, and diaspora.”
[i] Joy Xiang, “Bending the Light. A national survey of 10 artists who are reforming material practice,” Canadian Art, December 12, 2019, http://canadianart.ca/features/bending-the-light/.