Article Number: 1450
Soft Cover, English, Staple Binding, 52 Pages, 2009, Jan van Eyck Academie
Saliou Traore

The zoo of space

Let me be your dictionary

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In his project Let Me Be Your Dictionary Saliou Traoré (researcher Fine Art 2004–2005) examines contingent, simple relations of objects and events. Part of his strategy is to concentrate not on single, catastrophic events, but to focus on precise examples such as traffic jams and linguistic phenomena.

By focusing on simple everyday transports and movement and their meaning, the artist brings together unexpected connections and windings, even random narratives. Unlike the historian, Traoré does not explain the event and its proximate and remote antecedents or causes; rather, his approach is concerned with the process of the event, with getting to know the conditional hospitality of the world and the strangeness of being in the world. In his work, this ‘strangeness’ emerges from a form of comparative performance, registering the difference in the organisation of public space in Burkina Faso and the Netherlands. The conditional sense of hospitality that is then experienced breaks the logic of either/or – what is included – or the logic of neither/nor – what is excluded. One might call Traoré’s work a ‘reverse anthropology’, because his re-cognition of the conditional nature of hospitality, of people, places, space and things creates not a new boundary but a frontier that opens up new experiences. It allows the viewer to genuinely start searching, which is not re-searching or going over or compiling an encyclopaedia of information, but rather tracing the paths of words, of physical flow and stillness. Traoré presents learning as a form of looking, stumbling, parroting and hesitating, which opens the hospitality of things to lived experience, the lovely phenomenology of `things’.