In this episode of Costellazione, Senegalese-Italian artist Binta Diaw (b. 1995) discusses her recent work, Dïà s p o r a (2021). Realized in collaboration with Ivorian braiders, Diaw's work explores histories of hair braiding among African women in plantations, with specific attention to the practice of marronage: of mapping escape routes from slavery or bondage into patterns of braided hair. The work’s seemingly irregular, horizontal net of braided hair is suspended over small seedlings that grow from piles of dirt on the gallery floor.
Symbolizing the seeds that women sometimes wove into braided hair, in hopes of growing new plant life after escape, the seedlings that grow in the gallery function as signs of resistance, and signs that foretell diaspora and freedom. They suggest that destinations of freedom have been reached. Dïà s p o r a was shown at the Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Project Space), Abijan, Ivory Coast.
Binta Diaw lives and works in Milan. She studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan and at the École d'Art et de Design in Grenoble, France. Her work explores gender and intersectionality (often focusing on Black female experiences), migration and immigration, African and African diasporic identities, Italianness, and community. Artist's website.
Images courtesy of the artist and Galerie Cécile Fakhoury.