Here There and Everywhere: Anticipating the Art for the Future
People: Part V   Politics

Gorée Gazette/Economic Migration from West Africa
Todd Lester • USA
Stefan Barbic • USA
Gabriel Kemzo Malou • Senegal
Delphine Diallo • France

Each year tens of thousands of migrants—many of whom have never ventured out to sea—perish in boats as they try to reach the shores of Europe and, in some cases, North America. freeDimensional began to advocate on behalf of these people as early as 2006, when the organization helped their artist-in-resident, the Senegalese lawyer Bara Diokhan to secure a boat for an installation entitled the “Empty Vessel Project,” which dealt with the plight of economic migrants fleeing Senegal to the Canary Islands. This initiated a series of community events in New York in partnership with West African Diaspora groups, which gained momentum during New York’s Immigrant Heritage Week. During Immigrant Heritage Week, freeDimensional hosted a round table event, bringing together Senegalese and West Africans to help design and provide content for a pamphlet/newspaper called the Gorée Gazette, followed by a workshop at the Santa Fe Art Institute entitled “OUTSIDER: Tourism, Migration, Exile.” These actions marked the first phase of their economic migration campaign, which culminated in their pamphlet like newspaper, created in the style of well-documented propaganda campaigns like those that the Spanish and Swiss governments produce to dissuade Senegalese and West Africans to migrate to Europe by sea. freeDimensional’s Gorée Gazette offered an alternative version of the situation that faces economic migrants and was distributed at Atelier Moustapha Dime and throughout the city of Dakar during the 2008 Dak’Art Biennale. Currently freeDimensonal is using lessons learned from their pamphlet campaigns to connect with other migration projects. For instance, freeDimensonal is working with a new and dynamic research project on economic migration, entitled “Take to the Sea.” “Take to the Sea” consists of podcasts, photographs, animations and texts—such as articles, stories and individual profiles—and looks at the issue of Egyptian economic migration from that country’s northern coast to southern Europe. "Take to the Sea" and the Gorée Gazette also were recently featured in a show at the Harlem Studio Fellowship during the artHARLEM’s Open Studios. In the future freeDimensional plans to continue this dialogue on economic migration by bringing together community-based organizations and art associations to further advocate on behalf of these vulnerable groups.

freeDimensional (fD) is an international network that works for social justice by linking arts and cultural resources to human rights activism.

Exhibition Venue:
Atelier Moustapha Dime during the Dak’Art Biennale • Dakar, Senegal
May 2008

Atelier Moustapha Dime was the studio of the late Senegalese sculptor Moustapha Dime (1952-1998). The studio is situated on the side of a cliff that forms the seaward wall of Gorée Island’s old fort. Gorée Island is a twenty-minute ferry ride from Dakar, the capital of Senegal. A student of Dime and visual artist in his own right, Gabriel Kemzo Malou has transformed the space into a small artist residency and filmscreening venue. Atelier Moustapha Dime is a partner center of the freeDimensional network and is regularly an ‘off’ site of the Dak’Art Biennale.