“The aim of Share Concept is to bring something, such as knowledge and references, and to learn, for example, from traditional techniques”
Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.
Although three years later than planned, the international project Share Concept finally got underway. The Share Concept network supports creative initiatives in a number of African nations. In January two Basque artists, Juan Aizpitarte and Ixone Ormaetxe, were in Senegal working on plastic arts projects, the result of an agreement signed in 2020 by the Etxepare Basque Institute and the Slovenian art organization Zavod Exodos.
The project was supposed to take place in 2020, but pandemic-related obstacles forced the two Basque artists to postpone their projects to January 2023. Juan Azpitarte’s project, ‘Art and Tourism Observatory´, revolves around tourism and culture. Ixone Ormaetxea’s ´Many Melo’ (Many Colors) sought to encourage creativity, learn new skills and traditional designs, create new textiles and ways of working, and present unique fashionable clothing.
Ixone Ormaetxe defines herself as a multidisciplinary artist, spectator of spaces and experimental writer. From the purest plastic expressions (painting, sculpture, drawing...) to graphic and textile design, her work is in contact with the public and the spectator. Looking for different ways to take art to the street, her work seeks a dialogue with those who observe it.
Juan Aizpitartework, on the other hand, is based on different disciplines, indistinctly appropriating the possibilities from sculpture to installation, from graffiti to urban intervention, from performative actions to editorial projects, from writing to video.
This is how Ormaetxe approached her work, running a workshop at Le Centre de Formation Professionnelle in Ouakam, Senegal. The objectives are to stimulate creativity, learn traditional textile skills and designs, learn about new designs and working methods, and to present products. During her time in Senegal, Ormaetxe ran textile workshops focusing on printing, tailoring and upcycling, as well as experimenting with local artisanal dyeing techniques.
During this "pilot experience", Ormaetxe sought to approach the creative process from an artistic perspective, beyond simply creating a fashionable textile product. At the end of her stay, she organised a fashion show to exhibit the results of the clothing created in the workshop.
“I wanted to explore space and objects as well as the sense of identity through clothes. The result was very positive: as a result of this research, we developed a number of performances. We managed to break out of the mould a bit, by way of experimentation and an elevated creative perspective on the world of fashion,” she explained.
Even so, she doesn´t consider this project to be over. Share Project will last until 2027, and for the time being, Ormaetxe intends to return to Dakar in December 2023 to continue developing her work, collaborating with local organisations.
“After all, that’s the goal of the Share Project. To give and receive. To bring something, in my case, knowledge and references, and to learn artisanal dyeing techniques, pigments and ways of printing objects.”
Tourism and future
Juan Aizpitarte, meanwhile, has was working on his ´Art and Tourism Observatory´ project, which deals with a tourism related to culture. In conversation with local stakeholders, he examined the different ways tourism impacts Senegal, and created a documentary of the interviews called ´Toubisme´. Through the testimonies of local workers in the sector, he painted a picture of what they´re experiencing at this time. Aizpitarte’s documentary with which he has tried, in his words, “to give a voice to a whole community".
Aizpitarte began his journey a year ago, touring tourist areas and interviewing tourism operators, studying post-colonial aspects and tourism etymology, focusing mainly on two terms: souvenir and service. The first, related to a spiritual and enlightening aspect of the travel experience and the second, to the difference in status between host and visitor.
Aizpitarte said that his work was "very well received" and confessed to feeling "better integrated" after the documentary was shown. Together with a local choreographer, he explored the imaginative realm of Christopher Columbus via physical performance. He explained that the next stage of the project will take place in August, consisting of a workshop with Fine Arts students to rethink the future of the tourism sector.
“A project like Share Concept,” said Aizpitarte “is designed to be long-term, with gaps between visits, to help digest new concepts. But trust takes time. New ideas and social change, need time to take hold". After all, this is the ultimate goal of both Ormaetxe and Aizpitarte´s involvement in the project: to bring about a shift or innovation through art.