Fatou Kandé Senghor is an award-winning visual artist, documentary filmmaker and educator based in Dakar, Senegal. Her most recent film “Donner Naissance” (“Giving Birth”), a profile of enigmatic Senegalese sculptor Seni Camara, was selected for the 56th Venice Biennale. She has written widely on gender, culture, history and African cinema, and is the founder of Waru Studio, a space for young artists and filmmakers to explore the intersection of art-science-technology and politics in Africa. Significant collaborations include working with renowned director Ousmane Sembène on Faat kiné, and with Wim Wenders on “The Invisible” (2007), a documentary on sexual violence against women in the Congo. She has just published “Wala Bok: An Oral History of Hip Hop in Senegal" (2015, Amalion Publishing) an anthology of the era-defining artists of Senegal’s hip hop movement.
Kandé Senghor uses a combination of photography, film, writing and public installation to explore intimate concepts of identity, history, geography and community, documenting the changes in her society to reveal how the legends and poetry recorded in the oral tradition inform modern life. She fuses the dichotomy between ancestral heritage and Muslim practices effortlessly and seamlessly, boldly confounding expectations and stereotypes. Her distinctive perspective connects the Senegalese experience to a wider Pan- African and global culture.
Her work is immersed in a world of memory; not the memory of bittersweet nostalgia, but a living and dynamic retrospection which has an eye firmly to the future. She believes that individuals, communities and countries must reclaim their missing historical narratives to enable them to move forwards, and that the answers and tools they need to deal with their present lie firmly in their past. In Kandé Senghor’s world, history is not resolved. In Senegal, this means an exploration of issues around youth, gender, caste and wider social injustices.
Kandé Senghor is currently finalizing “Carbonised” – a documentary which explores the chasm between the discourse and practice on forestry management programs designed for global carbon storage, biodiversity protection and local livelihood enhancement. The film will explore what happens when these well-intentioned programs hit the ground, using examples from Senegal and Uganda. These ambitious programs promise to bring increased income and a healthy environment, but the reality is that they frequently displace forest-dependent peoples from their homes, thus denying some of the most vulnerable people in the world access to the resources they need to survive, and their rights and representation.
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