Mansour Ciss

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 Mansour Ciss
By courtesy of Galerie Herrmann

Article

Dakar – Berlin – Dakar

Born in 1957 in Dakar in Senegal, Mansour Ciss began as an artist by creating wooden sculptures in the African tradition. After moving to Germany, he started creating mainly conceptual art, mingling old and new forms, materials and technology in his room-installations. In Berlin in 2001 he launched the project "Laboratoire Déberlinisation", to further the North-South dialogue, then during the Dakar biennial 2002 in N´Gaparou he opened the Villa Gottfried – a house for international exhibitions and meetings of artists.
For the exhibition "Homeland Art" in the House of World Cultures in Berlin (2000), Mansour Ciss supplied the installation "Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu" ("God´s Pieces of Wood"), made of pieces of wood, cloth, iron, sand and solar plates. The pieces of wood stood on the ground and were bandaged with white cloth, since "pieces of wood are always human," and if someone in Senegal wished to know the number of someone´s children, he would ask for the number of pieces of wood.

For the biennial Dak‘Art in 1998, Ciss supplied the installation "The Fishers" Graveyard´ with pieces of wood cocooned in fishing-nets. The graveyard referred not to wars or the Aids epidemic in Africa but to colonisation agreed on at the Africa Conference in Berlin in 1884-85. To Ciss it is no coincidence that he is living in Berlin, not Paris or elsewhere in Europe, and that his child, the son of a white mother, was born in Berlin 100 years after the colonisation of Africa. His installation "Déberlinisation" (2001) is likewise a wooden installation whose pieces of wood stand on lattices in sand and call to be deberlinised.

On moving to Germany, Ciss felt himself to be newly initiated through a way of thought and life unfamiliar to him. In Africa he had been initiated as a healer and had worked as a sculptor, then in Germany he began to use new media and to mingle natural materials with technical equipment, video and slide-projection to show viewers the various worlds known to him and to reconcile them with each other. His "Fishers´ Graveyard" includes video and slide projections of rubbish and atomic plants, with medicine flasks from Africa and infusion flasks from Europe hanging next to them, to imply that traditional African healing methods and European medicine are compatible.

In his last project occasioned by the biennial Dak’Art 2002, Mansour Ciss presented three kiosks shaped like the bread-kiosks common in Senegal. These served as exchanges in which money, printed by the artist in the name of a united Africa, was offered in exchange for Euros, the exchange-rate being 7 Afros in a small cloth-bag for 5 Euros. On the 5 and 20 Afro notes was the head of Leopold Sédar Senghor, who was not only Senegal´s first president after independence but also a poet. Mansour Ciss would have gladly covered the whole city with these kiosks and had toyed with the notion of covering Independence Square in Dakar with a cloth path made up of Afros.

In Berlin in September 2001 Mansour Ciss founded the "Laboratoire Déberlinisation", a project meant to further the North-South dialogue, and he travels once or twice a year to Senegal, to the village N’Gaparou about 70 km outside Dakar, where during the biennial in 2002 he opened the Villa Gottfried – a house for international exhibitions and meetings of artists. The house stands in a part of the village known as Dyam Laye, which a master consecrated five years earlier as a spiritual site. The house´s name refers to that of the site and means "God and peace".
Author: Cornelia Gerner

Bio

Mansour Ciss was born in 1957 in Dakar, Senegal, as the son of fishers and healers and a member of the Sérérs tribe. On leaving school he studied sculpture at the Institut National des Arts du Sénégal then from 1980 to 1983 was a member of the Village des Arts. This was a self-managed artists´ centre on former military land in Dakar, where he mostly showed sculpture. From 1983 on, he lived and worked with a group of artists on the island N´Gor, then from 1985 on, in Medina/Dakar. Textiles and fashion design were his main concern.

He first travelled to Germany in 1986 then lived from 1987 to 1988 in Berlin before moving to Bamako in Mali. He there stayed from 1989 to 1993, creating sculptures of wood and marble and continuing to work on fashion design. In 1993 he flew back to Berlin and worked with the international group of artists Rundeck on the project "Beyond all Frontiers", with which he organised the first international symposium of sculptures in Dakar. The project "Beyond all Frontiers - Bridges between Europe and Africa" has been recognised by UNESCO as a world-decade project for cultural development.

Works

Group Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 "Berlin - Dakar - Berlin - Voyeur – Voyageur“, Galerie im Parlament, Berlin, Germany 2003 "Mein imaginäres Afrika", Galerie Engelsmühle, Darmstadt, Germany; "Mein imaginäres Afrika", Galerie am Ritterplatz, Bensheim, Germany; "Mein imaginäres Afrika", Stadtmuseum, Buchen, Germany; „Afro-Projekt", Afrika Kulturdorf, Stadtpark, Vienna, Austria; „Afro-Projekt: Die Räume der Macht. Die Macht der Räume", Schloss Sacrow, Potsdam, Germany 2002 "DAK´ART 2002", International Biennial Dakar, Dakar, Senegal; „Farafina“, Galerie Nord, Berlin, Germany „Farafina parallel", Galerie corridor 23, Berlin, Germany 2001 "Heimat Kunst“, Kulturverein Zehntscheuer e.V., Rottenburg am Neckar, Germany 2000 "Heimat Kunst“, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany 1999 "3. Festival der Kunst und Kulturen – Senegal“, Werkstatt der Kulturen, Berlin, Germany; „Les bouts de bois de dieu - Gottes Holzstücke oder die Kinder Gottes“, Galerie Nord, Berlin, Germany 1998 "2. Festival der Kunst und Kulturen – Senegal“, Werkstatt der Kulturen, Berlin, Germany 1997 "1. Festival der Kunst und Kulturen – Senegal“, Werkstatt der Kulturen, Berlin, Germany 1996 „Eine Nacht - ein Tag", Atelierhaus Pankow, Berlin, Germany 1994 „Über alle Grenzen 94", Place d´Indépendance, Dakar, Senegal „Eine Nacht - Ein Tag", Atelierhaus Pankow, Berlin, Germany; „Soleil d´Afrique", Galerie Querformat, Berlin, Germany 1992 "DAK´ART 92", International Biennial Dakar, Dakar, Senegal 1977 "2. Festival Panafricain des Arts", Festival Panafricain des Arts, Lagos, Nigeria; "5. Salon des Artistes Sénégalais“, Musée Dynamique, Dakar, Senegal 1976 "4. Salon des Artistes Sénégalais“, Musée Dynamique, Dakar, Senegal 1975 "3. Salon des Artistes Sénégalais“, Musée Dynamique, Dakar, Senegal 1974 "2. Salon des Artistes Sénégalais“, Musée Dynamique, Dakar, Senegal

Solo Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
1992 "Galerie 39“, Dakar, Senegal 1991 National Museum, Bamako, Mali 1985 "Deutschen Welle", Cologne, Germany "Studio II", Bielefeld, Germany

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Homeland Art (HeimatKunst)

Cultural Diversity in Germany

(01 April 00 - 02 July 00)

Www

Ciss at website of Galerie Herrmann, Berlin

images
 Mansour Ciss
God´s wood