Figuring Fallow Time

Raphaël Grisey

In: Sowing Somankidi Coura: A Generative Archive

Eds.: Raphaël Grisey in collaboration with Bouba Touré

Language: English & French



We first met in the context of a community of images. You came to my mother’s place for dinner. You ate little, and as soon as we had finished eating you were quick to set up the slide projector by the fireplace. You came once or twice each year upon returning from your trips to Mali. I saw your slides of the Bamako markets in Kayes, the cooperative, portraits of the founding members, children, women, the Senegal River, the irrigation system, fields of onions and okra, as well as banana plantations. You also showed us photographs of demonstrations, and of your friends in the workers’ hostel on rue de Charonne and in the Pinel hostel in Saint-Denis. You made the images speak, and the images spoke to you. It was not just a travel story, and there was something in the complex arrangement of your images that was hard for my childish eyes to penetrate.

While your hand focused the lens for each new image that appeared on the living room wall, your voice described the relationship between the cooperative you had founded, and the everyday lives and struggles of immigrant workers in France over the past 50 years. Your narrative tied together the scattered places appearing in the images. It strove to fill the space between the slides, recreating and producing traces of your story, reconstructing its path, going from the condition of an immigrant worker from a farm to the future of the cyborg farmer, informed by the ancestors you will all have become.

— Excerpt