In Wanderings, Anna Binta Diallo presents seven works of photographic collage, to be read individually or in series, considering how folk stories influence the formation of identity. Iterative in nature, this body of work shifts with each presentation, sometimes expanding into an exhibition space through sculpture. With the Waterfront Station installation, Diallo reimagines elements of her ongoing project as a sequence, inviting commuters to “read” the images as they pass—finding a narrative, or pausing in a single moment. 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.”
Collecting visual materials, folktales, and histories from her own heritage and beyond, Diallo investigates shared stories through a transcultural lens. Drawing on a wide array of stories, Diallo’s weighted imagery is eased from their sometimes-heavy contexts, allowing 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, she builds new photographic, illustrative, and geographic fictions. Figures and animal forms composed from varied sources, are situated in a white space, disrupting any sense of ground or landscape. The figures are at once historical characters and deep space wanderers; their faces made of galaxies and landforms; wearing motifs constructed from material residue of myriad cultural lexicons, ethnographic illustrations, and various landscapes.
If photography freezes a moment in time, these collaged images release and recapture this moment, turning photographic fact to expansive folklore. Refusing to privilege any fact over folklore, Diallo makes space for complex and contradictory experiences, upending the linear narrative privileged by colonial histories. Diallo’s images reject a single truth, implicating countless and complex understandings of Self and Other.