You have a tingling wanderlust and a hunger for exploring the stories within you, it’s
probably what brought you here, and it means that you are a lot like me. First things
first, I would like to thank the LTA Team for bringing such a community together.
Sharing this project here fills me with great excitement, and is the first in which I
actively decided to use my camera as a weapon and share my experience in a
completely different way.
Before I get into the creation and incentive behind ‘A note from us’ here is a little
something about me: I’m a 20-year-old photographer, cinematographer, guitar player
(don’t ask for hits though) and graphic design student from Germany, currently living
in Barcelona. Barcelona, I know! I got really lucky and if you’d know how little
influence I had on moving here, you’d probably laugh. Let’s just say if you ever get
stuck in life, just change your environment completely and something will definitely
happen, for better or worse. Although in the end it always seems better. I’ve had to
change my environment more than once, which gradually intensified my interest in
documenting different places, people and cultures.
In March 2016 I set out to The Gambia, officially the Islamic Republic of The
Gambia, a small West African country surrounded by Senegal. Islam is the
predominant religion, practiced by 90% of the countries’ population. Having fallen in
love with its people and mentality, my father had been returning to the Gambia for
years. I left with no real intentions other than to document our adventures, as on any
other trip. However, things turned out a little differently.
We stayed in a village called Madina Salaam (Village of Peace). During our stay, the
bombings in Brussels occurred, while we were staying in a West African Muslim
village named the Village of Peace feeling perfectly safe. We would watch the local
soccer matches at midday, drink fresh grapefruit juice with Selasi, who appointed
himself my Gambian brother, and play drums while sitting by the fire.
During our visit I received many excited and positive responses whilst walking
around filming and taking pictures in the village. I came to realize the power my
camera bears and what a privilege it is to have such a tool. I thought the least that I
could do was to offer this medium to the village and give them an opportunity to
share their thoughts. I had run into the scouts of the local school and was invited to
one of their scouting classes. I decided to ask each child one question: “What is your
biggest dream?” My intention was to confront them with a question that is simple,
unifies us all and one we could all relate to.
However, during the entire time, I did not really know where this was going or what
this was all going to say. I told the children that they could feel free to answer in any
way they wanted to. The answers I received were largely pretty harsh, as a lot of kids
wanted to be soldiers or in leading positions. Never for the sake of power but
triggered by an intent to bring peace.
While editing the video I came to the conclusion that this might not be about what
exactly the children answered. Instead of drilling on the realities that form such
aspirations, I like to see “A note from us” as an inspiration to reflect rather than
judge. To empathize with the dreams of others means to understand their stories.
I will return to the Gambia in December to visit Selasi and the scouts and absorb
some positive vibrations. I am definitely keen on creating more projects and am
excited to see where it will take us.
They call it the smiling coast of Africa and the smile hasn’t left my face yet.