Art as a medicine
“The quality of life depends on the quality of the ideas and the image about existence that one holds.”
Abdoulaye Armin Kane is a visual artist who works with a lot of different materials and techniques: sculpture, painting, video, design and animation. After working individually for many years, Armin now wants to dedicate more of his time to others in society. “Being an artist is a selfish profession. I feel it’s my responsibility to help those in need. Through my work I can create a more stable society.”
He works at a psychiatric hospital in Dakar where he organizes ‘ateliers d’expression’. “This way I can share my passion. Working with these people changed my perception about life. Madness is in all of us and lies between two extremes. If you are extremely happy, you get crazy; if you are you are extremely upset, you get crazy…” According to Armin expressing ourselves is the way to get ‘cured’. This works the same for people with a mental problem; they need to be able to express their ideas and thoughts to be cured.
Power cuts in Dakar
“Art has an important function: to raise awareness about limitations in society.” Armin creates art to make people think in a certain direction, to alert people to the essence of things. In order to do so, he manipulates images. He explains: “I can distort images, which will change the way of looking at things. My messages are in the interest of everyone.”
In one of his videos called ‘Power cuts’, he addresses problems like fires, accidents, robberies and thefts that occur during power cuts in Dakar. By presenting these situations, he hopes that people realize they should react in the opposite way and stay calm, wise and remain responsible for their deeds during these power cuts. Armin: “Life does not stop when there is a power cut and it happens a lot! So I hope people become aware of their actions while watching my video.”
Message in a video
The choice for video as a medium is a matter of communication. Armin: “How can I get people to connect to my message? I need to be where they are… I take TV as a medium, the video, to express what I want, what I feel and to launch my message. Because every home has a TV, so my message is accessible for everybody. The videos I make are mostly realistic and have a clear story. It’s mostly about things I have experienced myself.”
Family as mini universe
Armin’s daily life is important in his work. His neighbourhood and family are a great source of inspiration. “Everywhere you look in our house you’ll find pictures and family portraits. I think the peculiarities of a family reflect the society which we are part of. Photographs are also an indicator of time. So the family picture is a way to show how we live today or have lived in past times. They are idealised moments in our personal history, when people wear their most beautiful dresses and costumes.” He considers his own surroundings as a reflection of society.
“For me human beings symbolise the whole universe. One human alone can define the entire universe. All those people together represent the society and the community in which I live and the global society in general. In some cases we are different, but we are mostly the same, we have the same choices, sensitivities and shapes. Therefore, I leave out all the details of the figures, because they are not important. For me it’s the human shape, one of the most beautiful forms that nature has given us.”
Made in Africa
Armin’s social engagement is discernable in all his actions. He works together with other artists in a suburb of Dakar, Mbao, to set up the first animation studio in Africa, where young people can learn how to make and present animations. The goal of this project is that children in Africa can watch animation movies that are made in Africa, instead of somewhere abroad.
Armin summarizes: “I want to share a part of myself and like to show people how to do things in a different way. That’s what I do. In other words, the world has a voice and I want to encourage people to express themselves. Therefore, art is not a conviction but a vocation.”
English subtitles available, click on the cc-button in the video.