Square Boat

The coast of West Africa is dotted with hundreds of traditional fishing villages. These villages do not only serve the single function of the fishing activity, but most importantly act as a highly sophisticated socio-economical institution.

Activity would usually start even before dawn and lasts late into the night. Fishermen would open the floor as they set sail for the day. They are followed by mama's who would, negotiate, buy, clean, and dry fish, while carrying somnolent babies on their back. Kids go to school from there and back. Opportunists would lurk the whole day to snap at the slightest occasion. Illegal immigrants would silently gather in the shade of a grounded boat and dream far into the shimmering blue horizon. Love stories and arranged marriages would start or break up in the midst of the ongoing chaos.

At first approach, the chaos, the smells, the filth can be repelling, yet there's a lot beauty to be discerned in the overwhelming disorder. There is beauty in the cheerfully coloured dresses of the mamas. There's structure in the aligned painted boats. There is regular pattern in the dried fish. The scorching sun casts thin and flickering shadows as it permeates through the stacks of pilled fishing nets. There is happiness in the eyes of the ubiquitous kids. Hope nestles in the heart immigrants waiting for an imminent departure. The breeze shatters the fragile columns of smoke to enshroud the whole place in an eerie atmosphere.

These villages are a source of constantly changing beauty, the experienced eye would never tire of. Human activity, hand in hand, with the sweet changing light, continuously shapes and reshapes the scene to reveal an endlessly variant imagery, just in the same way an artist would tirelessly strive toward an esthetical ideal. One can confidently argue that there's still much beauty in chaos.

Square Boat is a series of images that has started in 2017 and slowly building up following several trips to some West African countries. This series is not intended to probe into the hard realities of the fishing activity in those areas, nor relate objective facts about West African traditional fisheries, but and rather strives to capture the ephemeral revelations of beauty that are inherent to those places. These pictures have taught my eyes how to discern and admire beauty generated and orchestrated by disorder.