Baay Sooley, Rapper, Dakar 2005In the words of Black G from RAK TAK SQUAD „Rap Wolof moo raw“ (translation – wolof hiphop is raw). This quote sums up the intention of the german photographer Sandy Haessner who is the creator of WORDVISION – a groundbreaking photo documentation of rappers in Senegal.

The WORDVISON photo series depicts Senegalese rappers in a variety of settings in order to reflect both the diversity of music and philosophy that is found in the local hiphop scene. The exhibit not simply show them simply as rappers – but rather as human beings, of whom hiphop is an itegral aspect of their life. WORDVISION combines two fundamental aspects in hiphop: oral and visual. Hiphop at its core is about expressing how one feels or views the world in which they live. Rappers by definition use words to share or get their opinions across. The one-word titles demonstrate the photographer´s interpretation for the emotions expressed in each picture as well as they refer to many hiphop principles. RESPECT is one of hiphop´s fundamental elements. For female rapper Fatim, her picture symbolizes her major fight in a male-dominated movement. CODES are the base of communication especially for the rappers. By using their own language, gestures and clothing – it helps negotiate the terrain for ensuring this sense of loyalty and respect. This is embodied by Snipe who is a senegalese rap artist living in Germany and has suscessfully been accepted and given respect as an MC by his peers. SPIRITUALISM is an imporatant aspect of Carlou’s picture, whose love for Mourid’s (Senegalese Islamic) spiritual guide, Cheikh Amadou Bamba, is a theme that is prevalent in much of Senegalese hiphop. Through the course of Senegalese Hiphop history there have been dozens of rap songs chanting the praises of Senegalese marabouts, relegious leaders as well as metaphysical/spiritual reflection.

For the past 8 years, Sandy Haessner has traveled regularly to Senegal for field research in African music. She collaborated with the senegalese percussion group Mama Africa and has also worked on a documentary about the Senegalese hiphop movement in Germany. Presented for the first time in Senegal in 2005/2006 this moving exhibition (5th Edition of Hip Hop Awards, Galerie MAAM TIOUTH, Goethe-Institut Dakar) hopes to change the perspective of how the Senegalese public perceives local rappers.

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