From Jareh Das: A first encounter with the surreal and otherworldly photographs of Italian-Senegalese artist, Maïmouna Guerresi stops you in your tracks. They are achingly beautiful as the Pove del Grappa born, now Dakar based, artist captures through portraits mediations on the mystical dimensions to human beings, one she describes as ‘a connectedness beyond borders – psychological, cultural, religious and political.’
Much has been written about Guerresi’s transition from her Catholic upbringing to Sufi-oriented Islam but her works show an interconnectedness of bodies, in her world, they have limitless abilities due to the hybrid spiritual and otherworldliness they possess – levitated, floating and expansive.
Important to Guerresi’s images is this invocation of both native and historic traditions, alongside fusing sculpture and architecture. In the series Minarets Hats (2001) and as the title implies, these sets of images reference typical slender towers that call Muslims to prayer.
In, R?BI?A (2016), the figure dons an elaborately printed chador and stares directly at the lens as if nothing is amiss in the tree branches sticking out of her veiled head. She has a streak of paint running from forehead to chin which evokes pre-Islamic native traditions.
Guerresi’s figures portray a universal truth about community and the soul. The body becomes a sacred dwelling, a meeting-place for humanity to re-discover its shared mystic body.