Discover more from Tender Photo
Place du Souvenir Africain, Dakar
A Photograph by Katia Golovko
The man with a backpack holds up a hand to his face. It is nearly impossible to tell if he's simply brushing off dust, or if he considers the sea through the camera of a smartphone. The sea’s beauty is welcome. The near-perfect symmetry of four chairs. A map of the African continent is propped up as a marker… for what? Imagine this place as a quayside, and imagine those who, nearing land, see the map from afar, its shape indistinct, lacking in use as tumbled plastic chairs. A world teeming with symbols, as patient for interpretation as a chair awaiting its sitter.
Katia Golovko: “In Dakar I walk around the city and watch.”
This picture was taken at the Place du Souvenir Africain, Dakar, Senegal.
I am fascinated with this place. It hosts several symbolic elements – the Museum of Woman (Musée de la Femme), a photographic gallery of the most significant African thinkers, politicians and intellectuals, and finally this monumental map of Africa. Very often when I come here I find people shooting music videos, skateboarding or rollerblading, doing parties, weddings or some thematic meetings. At some point I was coming here quite often to take pictures and to see how the urban life in Dakar is framed through this location.
The photograph bears in itself some kind of poetic relationship that does not need to be put in words but is sufficient as an image, I think. While all of these elements of the photograph may or may not be there, they happen to create a polyphonic relationship with each other. I find the image of the four empty chairs particularly mesmerizing.
In Dakar I walk around the city and watch. The photographs I take are results of a long-standing observation of urban life and its continuous changes. For a long time I have been attracted to some situations or urban installations and finally I managed to find words to describe what I was looking at and what I was searching for in this city. I am interested in the ways of ‘resisting violence’ by the city itself, by people, by the architecture and by their interaction. The violence of predatory constructions, violence of capitalism, violence of humans to each other and their environment. These forms of resistance finally take shape in unexpected ways of living the city, in its multiple and creative emanations.
Photography is a very powerful tool. It allows us to try to capture what we see but also – especially analog photography that I use – always leaves space to the unexpected. You never know how the picture will turn out once the film is developed. Photography is a form of philosophy of contemplation, of ways of seeing, of paying attention, not stopping at the evidence or the first impressions. It is also a way of resisting the immediacy of contemporary life, to create meaningful gaps.
Two more photographs by Katia Golovko
For each week’s feature, I send 3 photographs to the photographer, and ask them to respond to one. Here are the 2 other photographs I selected from Katia’s portfolio. What do you think about any of them? You can respond as a comment below.
Last Week — Hady Barry
“I would say that I turned to photography to interrogate and soothe myself. This has made my work first and foremost introspective and deeply contemplative. My visual language and my practice are still evolving but what has been constant so far are: (1) a focus on starting with what is within, and (2) execution of ideas through a collaborative approach. All my projects have so far involved a conversation and a dialogue with someone else and I’d like to preserve that as I grow. The last thing I want is for my work to be extractive.”
Read “Azi and Adjéla.”
Thank you for reading and sharing this feature on Katia Golovko. You can see more of her work on Instagram.
Every week I feature one photograph and the photographer who took it. You’ll read a short caption from me, and a statement from the photographer. My goal is to set up conversations with the work of early to mid-career African photographers. You can support the newsletter by asking anyone—or 10 people!—interested in the impact and meanings of photography to subscribe.