Bessengue B’ Etoukoa by The Trinity Session.
As originally conceived and commissioned for Across the Board: Public Space/ Public Sphere, 2013. Organised by Tate Modern and Doual’art. Supported by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.
The reanimation of public space in Valee Bassengue (Douala, Cameroon); where a modest bridge and communal water-pump, have served to strengthen social, economic and religious practices in and around the area, provided a starting point for Hobbs/Neustetter’s consideration of an appropriate site for a temporary intervention for the Sud Trienniel. The dynamic presence of ‘Thomas Fashion’ within the location (Thomas, a coiffure born and bred in Douala) offers an iconic site of social and creative production.
Following a series of interviews and site walks with Thomas in and around his neighbourhood; meeting his 90 year old mother – the source of much of his drive and motivation, friends and special places – it became clear that Thomas the person and stylist is central to the continuity of social and personal life in the area.
For Hobbs/Neustetter the balance between site and people specificity was enhanced by Thomas’ sustained connection to the landscape, combined with his myriad creative talents – enabled an idea for a performative collaboration and event.
Over a period of five days, a select group of ‘actors’ chosen by Thomas for their particular life journeys, inspired a varied range of hair and fashion styles – worn for photo shoots in the landscape, in-turn evolving into an elaborate nighttime fashion spectacle.
The post performance version of this project exists as a large scale multiple video screen installation on exhibition at the Museum of African Design in the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg, until 28 June 2015