Ami Weickaane

Paris-Dakar

Ami Weickaane, also known as Blu, has devoted her life to, in her own words, art, culture, environment, ecology, the holy feminine and the African intangible heritage. She’s also an African woman in Europe and a European woman in Africa. In the middle of it, yet in-between.
An instigator, and an observer. A creative, and a curator. She goes wherever her sensitivity takes her.

Published 14/01/2020

SKEWED Creator

RU

How old where you when you left Dakar ?

AW

I was 19, maybe 20. It was the 90’s. I got the chance to go to Paris to study, to be one of the few people to leave Dakar and go to the outside. I came to Paris for my studies and I ended up staying for, I think, 20 or 22 years. My studies went very well, and I started working there in marketing, communication and promotion.

Indeed, her studies went very well. She graduated in Foreign languages and civilizations, Corporate communication AND Strategic marketing. Since then she has been curator, consultant and project manager for countless projects. She founded the witches collective “Je suis Bonne, Je suis une femme” and Café LSD in Paris. Right now, she is the CEO of LIJJANTI and co-founder of RUKKI BUKKI COMPANY.
 

AW

I had so many different lives. I used to be like a Parisian girl, always running, always working, always searching for some artistic stuff somewhere.

RU

And then, all of a sudden, you were back.

AW

Yes. I told my son and daughter, “You have to change your life now. We are going back to Senegal where your mum is from.” They didn’t know that much about this country. I came back to Senegal one year ago, and I reconnected with the people I had left when I was a child. I was so happy to find a lot of them being part of the great art energy in Dakar. Artists, activists, intellectuals. It was just like we had never been apart. So that was my first surprise going back to Dakar.

RU

What was the second surprise ?

AW

The second surprise was, maybe not as good. You know, my whole life in Paris I was claiming that I am an African woman, Senegalese from Dakar. And when I came back to Dakar, they were looking at me like, “You are from the West. You don’t know anything about Dakar and Senegal.” That’s a very strange energy, being in-between like that.

RU

What’s it like being back ?

AW

Being in Dakar, and living in my neighbourhood in Point E, bring me the possibility to see all the different shapes of this town, and what I was when I was there and what I amnow, and the whole change of the city. One thing I really love about the city is that people never ever give up. They are always trying to do something with their art, their music, their politics, their everything. They’re always searching for something. They’re always trying to find a solution even when there’s no problem.

RU

That’s a lovely quality.

AW

Yes! They’re seekers of everything. Whatever you ask people, everything is always possible. Everything is always doable. They never give up. So at least I’m recognizing myself in that as an African woman from Senegal. I had to struggle a lot in France, being a black, female business owner. I never give up.

RU

Has anything changed for the worse ?

AW

The mindset. When I left, to me, it seemed the people were very proud. Proud of what they were and proud of what they had. Now, not so much. They want something else, the dollar bill, a new car or organic food, without realizing everything we eat is organic. Also, the level of education. I think there’s less and less cultural knowledge in our education. Knowledge about ourselves and the world seem less important somehow.

Ami on her porch in Point E

RU

That’s the internet, right ? We’re not happy with who we are because we’re looking at others all the time. And we don’t value knowledge because we think we got it in our phones.

AW

Exactly. We got Google and Wikipedia so we don’t need to know anything. But African people should really, really keep the know-ledge and know who they are, where they are from and where they are going.

RU

Let’s move to happier things, let’s talk more about art !

AW

No, this is not sad! It’s facts! And it’s facts that explain the art stuff. When heritage get less important in general society it shows up in the art. And the art truly is in our DNA. I love to just sit at the corner and look. The wrestlers going to the beach to train, the women carrying stuff on their heads walking to the market. The way they look, the way they move, the way they talk and the way they act – it’s already artistic. The girl working in my house, everyday she’s done some new art stuff with her shoes. It’s the artistic DNA showing. And art is healing. Having art is like having a healer. You can let your mind wander, you can dream and, also, it creates reach between people. That’s so important in a big city like Dakar.

RU

What’s your favourite spot in Dakar, geographically or spiritually ?

AW

My favourite place in Dakar doesn’t exist anymore because it was just a corner where we used to go after school and sit, inventing everything, the world we would like to have, the kind of life we would love to create. It was called Blockers, behind a big wall and in front of the ocean, but it’s gone now. Or maybe my favourite place in Dakar is on it’s way, because my big dream is to create it and I have some ideas in me.

RU

I’m sure you do. I know this is the worst question in the world, but I have to ask it.  What are you? What is it that you do ?

AW

That’s the hardest question. Right now, I’m creating three exhibitions. I’m working on opening a place in Dakar and I’m writing a book. I’ve also started doing conferences around the world. Last week I was in Barcelona, the day after tomorrow I’m going to Milan and after that Brazil. I’m talking about art, women, African heritage and business. So what am I? Am I in marketing, an activist, a feminist, a writer? In Paris people love to put the title curator on me because it’s easy, but I think I’m kind of a hybrid between creative energy and observer. And curator. [laughs] Maybe I’m just someone here to light something?