I met Alioune almost 1 year ago at a friend’s birthday. We soon realized that we have several common friends but I don’t recall him telling me about his passion for photography.
A few weeks ago I discovered his work at the Biennale of Dakar. I immediately loved his photographs. I find his portraits beautiful. The faces are so expressive they seem to tell a life story and make us want to learn more about the people represented.
Can you introduce yourself?
I am Alioune Ba, my artist name is Alun Be.
I studied architecture and I am an artist photographer although I do not like the idea of being put in a box. I express myself mainly through photography even though my art can evolve. I grew up in Senegal and my parents lived in several countries so I had the chance to discover several environments early in life.
Why did you choose this profession?
Actually I did not really choose architecture. My parents were afraid I would engage in the arts circle. So I studied Architecture in the USA. When I returned to Senegal, I joined the order of the architects of Senegal but today it is a little devalued and in perdition. People build without architects. This made me doubt about my carrier in Senegal.
Then I traveled to Denmark to work and improve my knowledge.
A meeting with an artist triggered something off in my mind. This person perceived that I had done what my family wanted of me (to be a doctor or architect) instead of becoming the artist I really was. He said he knew because he had lived the same story.
I did a portrait of this man which is a photo that I love!
As an artist, how do you define yourself?
I think I’m in the category of artists who have a duty to reflect the times they live in. Art stimulates the mind. My work as the one of other artists can help the society to grow, go foward.
Which artists do you admire? Who inspired you?
I admire the artists who are “involved” not necessarily politically but socially like Nina Simone. Nina Simone was an artist but it is when she committed to the fight against segregation that her career took off. That’s what I like, when there is substance, a soul behind the work, it affects people, it influences them.
Alexis Peskine exhibited on the subject of immigration at the Biennial of Dakar. He mixed several techniques (sculptures, photographs, videos…) in order to deliver his message. I also think of the Ukrainian Olga Prisco. She works on the imagination, and we question and this is what I love. Art must question; if there is no questioning it is called crafts.
How do you work?
I mainly make portraits. Faces tell a lot of stories, especially eyes. One can read on a face if the person is in hatred, peace, sadness or joy. What attracts me usually is the charisma of those who have lived very strong experiences which are written on their faces.
Before taking a picture, I visualized what I want to obtain. During the photo shoot it is more an exchange; I spend a lot of time with people before taking their picture. I hang on to the vision of the picture I want to take.
Most of the time I don’t plan to make portraits. I can meet someone on the subway and ask him to realize his portrait because there is something on his face I want to capture.
But since it’s my business, I also work on some orders. They can from organizations such as the United Nations or individuals.
What is your particularity?
I love shooting portraits. Faces challenge me. I am a person who observes a lot and likes to try to understand what a face can express, tell.
Which of your creations do you like the most ?
The picture of the old man was a trigger. It gave me confidence and allowed me continue in that art but it is the series of African women who made me realize that I had my own style, my trademark. This style really asserted itself with this series of portraits. For the first time I looked at my work with hindsight and appreciation.
Are you involved in associations, groups, collectives with other artists?
I love working with the photographers Malick Welli and Siaka Traoré. These are people I met in the early stages. We grow together and help each other.
What are your current projects?
I would like to create photography projects that challenge through humor the social values of our period and globalization.