Ibrahima Thiam
Page de carnet de note , 2021
Pencil on paper

150 €

« Listen more often to things than to beings, the dead are not dead. » Birago Diop makes us aware of the essential elements that are always with us: water, fire, wind…
I discovered this poem in high school, with African literature. It feeds me and inspires me : reading it gives me the imagination I need to fix the Lebou stories on paper. The image is a way to inscribe these words in a visual dimension. Birago Diop, himself from a Lebou community, weaves links between beings and things, life and death.

Translation of Birago Diop’s poem :

« Those who died never left :
They are in the shadows that light upand in the thickening shadows
The dead are not under the ground :
They are in the shuddering tree,
They are in the groaning wood,
They are in the flowing water,
They are in the sleeping water,
They are in the hut, they are in the crowd,
The dead are not dead. »  


Images created by Ibrahima Thiam are true disturbed landscapes: the artist allows the collective imagination to enter a real environment. Sometimes this is due to subtle elements, such as traces of some kind of passage, abandoned or simply deposited in a carefully chosen frame. Fixing on paper stories that cannot be seen, from oral traditions, requires patience: the artist transforms the tool of memories into that of myths. The shots are simple and diverse: portraits or landscapes, they sometimes focus on a detail of the environment or capture the invisible essence of a whole. However, what holds our attention is the mastery of the art of details, contrasts and colours, which lull the viewer into discovering an environment that is both tangible and imbued with mystery. Indeed, the play on contrasts is essential for Ibrahima Thiam. The colours set the pace for the observant eye: the artist takes care to preserve the softness of the aurora and its secret atmosphere in his photographs. On the other hand, there is never any silence: the images vibrate, speak and summon the imagination of sounds.


Born in 1976 in Saint Louis, Senegal, Ibrahima Thiam moved to Dakar to study economics. Following a workshop organized by Goethe-Institute during the Month of Photography at Dakar in 2009, he found his passion for photography. Self-taught, he is interested in memory, archives, African orality as well as myths and legends. Ibrahima Thiam collects pictures, including some from his family archives, wich helps shaping his imagination. Recently, he has also been developing a process that highlights the deities of the Lebu communities. His work was featured in several national and international group exhibitions, including: Raw Material Company, Dakar, Senegal, (2020), The View From Here: Contemporary Perspectives From Senegal, Zuccaire Gallery, SUNY Stony Brook University, New York, USA Unis (2019), Gallery Eulenspiegel, Bale, Switzerland, (2017), Bronx University, New York, United States (2016) as well as Telling Time during the 10th edition of the Bamako Meetings, African Biennial of Photography (2015) . He lives and works between Saint Louis and Dakar.