The Stranger's Notebook
This fall, we will find Dawit L. Petros at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, in october 2016. This event comes after he had his first solo exhibition in may 2016 in his London Tiwani contemporary gallery, where he showcased his trilogy on migration -an essential component of modernity.
This is a multidisciplinary project, embracing photography, moving images, objects and sound. It is based on studies and on the work done by the artist during a one-year travel (2014-2015) which started in Nigeria and continued through Morocco towards Europe. Petros achieved several artworks in cities like Bamako (Mali), Nouakchott (Mauritania) and Dakar (Senegal).
The title of the project refers to Albert Camus’ bestseller L’Étranger (1942) (The Stranger). It also alludes to Georg Simmel’s concept of a « paradoxical stranger »-a potential vagrant, who is both close and distant. As for his artistic modus operandi, Petros has found his inspiration in a travel story written at the end of the 20th century by Fesseha Giyorgis, a cultural figure who is widely regarded as the father of Tigrinya literature : it relates Giyorgis’ travels from Massawa, on the Red Sea coast, to Italy where he lived and worked during five years. This text provides a rich counterpoint to contemporary stories about migration and the challenges brought about by the legacy of European colonialism.
In his work, The Stranger’s Notebook (Prologue), Petros studies the complexity of migration flows in Africa. The pictorial elements, oscillating between the figurative and the abstract, mingle the descriptive nature of photography with theatrical possibilities of still more performative life. The video and its sound components showcase split aesthetics, embedded in numerous points of view. The artist thus displays a work involving an aesthetic and political language which points towards the potential of mobile practices, releasing opportunities of articulating the relationship between the self and the place.