Part of the power of these portraits lies in context, in learning who the migrants are, and how, amid such wretched circumstances, a democratic mix of citizens emerges—a melting pot of nationalities and ethnicities, of classes and educations. “It was surreal to see these women in their delicate scarves and fancy handbags,” Florio recalls. “With babes in arms—that type of thing. You had shoeless guys from West Africa and then Syrians who looked like they’d gone shopping for the day. Come as they are.” Jason Florio – read the full feature online: VQR, Winter Edition 2016
We saw this man often on 6th Ave, near our apartment, pushing his precariously overloaded, wobbly old shopping cart. One amongst many men, and women, you can see every day on the streets of NYC, heads buried deep into the public trash cans, sifting through, collecting discarded tin cans, bottles, and plastic, in order to reclaim the five cents refundable deposit charged to consumers on purchases of beer, soda, and water containers, in the city. This is often their only means of making a living.
Available as a triptych or as individual prints – email for details: email@example.com
“As we live and as we are, Simplicity – with a capital “S” – is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.” Frank Lloyd Wright – The Natural House
I’ve previously written here about Amigoe Dieudonné, a Togolese artist and friend that Florio and I met whilst basing out of our long-time haunt, The Gambia, West Africa, 2014-15. However, we wanted to bring attention back to him, as there is currently a GoFundMe page (kindly set up by Texas Huntress) to enable Amigoe, amongst other key things, to buy a badly-needed new wheelchair:
‘Amigoe needs money for food, for a new wheelchair, (his is over ten years old) to move to an apartment where he can properly access a bathroom instead of moving up and down stairs in his chair…. and finally for travel to Europe where he can properly exhibit and sell his beautiful paintings.’ Help African Painter, Amigoe!’ GoFundMe
The above short video portrait of Amigoe was shot in The Gambia. He has travelled for over fifteen years around West Africa in his wheelchair, which is by no means an easy feat – as Florio and I witnessed for ourselves, whilst following him around, filming, in Gambia – especially when he only has the use of one arm, having been paralyzed in his legs and left arm since he was a young boy. Amigoe’s determined travels saw him stopping along the way to create extensive bodies of work (he told us that in one place he lived outside, in a park for months on end, painting beneath the shade of a big tree) which he exhibits and sells wherever possible to be able to continue his odyssey.
We first met Amigoe at the opening night of our Photos Tell Stories – ‘The Gambia by Gambians‘ – photography exhibition, at the Alliance Française in Banjul. He asked us if we would shoot the short bio, to enable him to approach potential clients and galleries for exhibitions.
Last year, true to his independent and ever-inquisitive nature of the past fifteen years, Amigoe decided to make the arduous overland journey to Bamako, Mali, to see if he could expand his artistic career. He is now back in his homeland of Togo, where he returned to for the first time in many, many years to apply for a new passport – ever hopeful to fulfill his dream of being invited to Europe or the US to exhibit his work.
One of my favourite spots on this tiny island, a place of contemplation and reflection.