This time last year, just back from my second trip to Senegal, I attended one of the greatest exhibits I have ever seen in my life. In the intimate frame of the Officine dell’Immagine in Milan, a small exhibit completely turned me upside down. This is the proof that you don’t need a streamline exhibit to feel the art flowing in your veins and to have your soul impacted just watching a photograph: when it’s art it can happen anywhere, even in a small gallery but the artist, yes, the artist must be powerful.
Powerful is indeed the word that I would use to describe the Rûh/Soul exhibit by Maïmouna Guerresi.
Just a handful of her photographs holding on the wall completely floored me.
The main reason – I think – is the artist’s representation of women: the women pictured in her photographs represent the force of the African Muslim woman, The Great Mother, as she defines her. They are powerful, anchored to the Earth like a tree, light and soft as a cloud, they are one with Nature. I had fresh memories in my mind of these women, the African women that I met in Senegal. It is not a coincidence that Maïmouna Guerresi has Senegalese origins. But also Italian, and her mixed culture is clearly visible in her art: what a mistake to think that different cultures cannot perfectly mix to reach the supreme beauty!
Another reason that makes this exhibit so powerful is the clear feeling of divine peeking out of her photographs. To me this appears clearly in her photo Yaye Fall (honestly my favorite one), where the human being is the link between the Nature – the roots of the tree from which it elevates – and the highest divinity.
It is very hard for me to describe my feelings in front of Maïmouna Guerresi art. In that exact moment my first answer was silence. I was so overwhelmed by many powerful feelings that the only thing that I could do was just listening to them, feeling them and let them guide me to this almost mystical experience.
How many artists can do that?
PS: I wore a vintage dress found at a Vinokilo event in Milan and handmade jewelry from Afrohemien and Metalica.