` The Bolibana Collection (2023) – Friedman Benda

The Bolibana Collection (2023)

By Hamed Ouattara


          Dedication: These works are in memory of my mother, hence the piece SINDOU, named after her village in Burkina Faso. 

          I have had this collection in mind for many years, but its story does not begin with me. 

          Metalworking goes a long way back in Burkina Faso, to the time of our ancient ancestors, who developed the techniques of forging, welding, hammering, bending, routing and riveting. This is the work of metallurgy, from the techniques of extracting metal from ores to the shaping of utensils to the manufacture of plows for agriculture. 

          I continue this practice today. My tools, too, are handmade, and their traces are clear in the work. All aspects of the objects, including accoutrements and hinges, are entirely designed and made at our workshop in Ouagadougou. This is a collective work, involving artisans from various locations in Burkina Faso, including Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, and Sindou. Each object we make is unique, and has a specific link to traditional African values and rites that have anchored me since childhood. 

          The forms of my work start from the medieval history of Africa: kingdoms of yesteryear, with their mythical cities of Timbuktu, Djenne, Bobo Dioulasso, rich and full of life. I have also drawn inspiration from Sudanese architecture that marked me throughout my childhood. Yet I also want to bring my artisanal workshop up to date, to explore the boundaries of the functional and the conceptual. 

          The word bolibana, in the Bamana language of West Africa, means something like “the happy ending of an atypical career.” I use it here in reference to my own journey, which has not been without its pitfalls. In this environment, which is empty of academic training and support structures, difficulties must be overcome through serenity and plenitude, research and innovation. I find our workshop today filled with a feeling of accomplishment, in tune with ourselves, allowing us to tackle the subjects that are close to our hearts: Africa and its mysteries, steeped in spirituality and love. 

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