NENE AÏSSATOU DIALLO

bywaters




bywaters explores the complexities of home, Blackness, and American identity, as mixed-media artist Nene Aïssatou Diallo recollects her family’s migration from Guinea to Newark. Working with family photographs packed for their journey in 2006, Diallo presents these images as portraits with questions that recall names, experiences, and places as frames. Through her collages, cropped images, and narrative text, Diallo unearths the irresolute borders, both interpersonal and physical, that need to be acknowledged when claiming space in new lands that are supposedly open for all. In reintroducing these images and materials, as they now physically exist in Newark, Diallo honors her maternal home while relying on such memories to confront how home is now lived as a Black immigrant in a major American city.

Specifically, in her processing of the murder of Amadou Diallo, the 23-year-old Guinean immigrant who was fatally shot by four New York City Police Officers in February 1999, she shows an awareness that the black body is not accepted or valued in the national social fabric of the United States. She writes, “black in guinea is black here too, but black here is not comfort.” Clearly, Diallo sees her Guinean community, family, and self in this American landscape. However, she reveals a deep discomfort in the means by which such blackness is embodied and lived.  

 




 

the stories of home, of sanckarela, of mamou, of guinea, replay themselves visually in family albums. entire histories and legacies, live on the four by six paper kept relatively safe between plastic, laminated. and stored away. but forgetting these images, and the stories that come with them, feels violent, an erasure impossible to comeback from. when moving at ten years old with my younger brother,

and my parents, we packed photographs, amongst other things. and through them, i am reminded and retold stories of my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, my neighbors, my cousins, that live there still, or have also immigrated elsewhere, with or without their families, also carrying photographs, of mothers, and grandmothers, and
so on.


 




 



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