First, there is obscurity, that surrounds you. Leaving the blindingly luminous sky and the red ground outside of the museum behind, you have to blink to get your eyes accustomed to the darkness.
Then, there is silence. Intimidating and unexpected. Outdoor, children are playing with a ball in between buildings, while young entrepreneurs park their mopeds and go register to an event next door.
It’s right then that they appear. In the half-light of the room, looking back at you are the eyes of thirty persons who were photographed by Alain Leloup, former director of the National Photography School of Arles. Fifteen women, fifteen men. Famous and anonymous side by side. No names, no labels. Nothing that can take us away from their eyes. Their presence here makes us forget their social status, their job or their class. They’re here, in that face to face with us, born out of the photographer’s imagination.
Karine is 20. A cleaning lady and a cook, she was trained in a organization that takes care of young women who are far away from their families. She is usually soft-spoken and her laugh is discreet as a bird’s trill. Surprised and proud, she discovers that her serious face is among these thirty faces that make up a collective portrait of Burkina Faso.
In the exhibition’s semicircular installation, it is difficult to escape the looks of these characters. But they are not the subjects of the photographer; he wanted them shown as actors of the exhibition. Determined, shy, kind or wild, those Burkinabe are looking at you, right in the eyes.
In a country where, by tact, you avoid staring an unfamiliar person in the eyes, this exhibition is an invitation to reflexion, a gentle provocation, and defines itself as “a tribute to Africa”, the Africa that moves forward, creates, produces… The Africa that looks at herself but also at Europe face to face.
Musée national, Avenue Charles de Gaulle, Ouagadougou
Free entry (9 :00 am to 5 :00 pm except Monday)