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Interview | Eye Interviews Yz Yseult on Project Amazone

We at the Eye Art Collective had the good fortune to interview YZ Yseult, renowned artist, on her series of street art at Senegal, named Project Amazone. The graffiti are a tribute to the Dahomey Amazons- “women guerrillas, revolutionaries, and intellectuals who make African history”.

 

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Would you please talk about the process behind this project, and why you have chosen street art as a medium for your narrative? And how efficient do you believe street art is for you to reach out to the public? (I have changed graffiti by street art as I’m not doing graffiti)

YZ Yesult: The Amazone project came naturally after working on the Women from another century project. When I arrived in Senegal I started searching old photographs as well as doing research on historical stories in Senegal and Africa. I discovered women who fought for there people and had no fear. I was fascinated, I could clearly and simply relate to those women. They inspired me. I then decided to do a series of pasteups in the surrounding cities as well as working on old wood to make small sized paintings.

Street art is part of the process of my work, I usually start on the street, then go back to my studio to work on canvas using material I came across while on the street. At the end I am talking about the people, there home and there story.
 When putting my art in the street, it is not to have my work seen by many. I do it because of what it brings to the project.
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How long did it take you to complete this project?

YZ: The project is not done yet, I have created the first round. And it might be an ongoing project as there are extraordinary women worldwide.

Why did you choose greyscale as your palette? Has it got anything to do with the ochre tone of the city? 

YZ: I have always been working with black ink. I want to make it straight to the essentials. Also, it gives a timeless look that brings poetry in my work.

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Will this project only be centred around Senegal , or do you wish to spread it around other parts of Africa? What are the challenges?

YZ: I’d love to continue working on this project overseas, as I said there are stories of extraordinary women everywhere. But for the moment I am still developing this Amazone project, working in my studio on different material like wood and metal for a futur exhibition as well a second part of the Amazone project in Senegal.

How long have you been associated with art, and did you always favour street art over other mediums?

YZ: My parents were artists, my aunt and uncles, the family friends were artists. I guess I grew up with the idea of having the choice to do what ever you want to. So I started as a sound engineer, went on to filmmaking, and explored any typed of art mediums to finally concentrate myself on painting in the street as well as in my studio.

 

Your choice of spaces gives an added meaning to your work. Would you elaborate on how you choose these specific spaces?

YZ: The choice of the location are very meaningful indeed. I spend a lot of time wondering in the city to find were I will be putting my art. It has to have an echo with the subject I am working on. For Amazone, I chose mostly little “canteens” because they are very often owned by women, they use those to sell food or other things. One area was an abandoned market, this environment takes us to another time.

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How does the immediate viewer react to your work? What kind of reactions have you received on going back to these spaces, from the locals and govt. authorities? 

YZ: Working here was quite different to any other places I have been pasting. Some of them were very positive and others were very negative. When pasting my painting they were also very concerned about the identity of the women, often they were guessing and last were very happy when they knew the person. Aline Sitoe Diatta was very acclaimed.

Do you believe your work is feminist? If so, why?

YZ: I don’t want to put it that way. I work on issues and themes that are meaningful to me, and resonate with my life experiences. I am not fighting for women rights, I am talking about women who have fought for their people, male and female. And these stories contribute to enhance the status of women in the world and more specifically in Africa.

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YZ, is an eye, first and foremost. A committed artist with intuition and guided by human desire. Through timeless essence, YZ travels through her own history and reflect our time and society soften by a soft light, but non the less surprisingly real.

In the street, the human figure and his living space remain as the central theme of the artist. YZ tries to point out the status of being within our society, she describes and interprets our lifestyles through photos of the local inhabitants in the cities she passes through. Her approach is more and more in a global dynamic. Both poster designer, filmmaker, visual artist, she takes a space with which she forges a personal relation.

With an extreme demand, YZ navigates through the broad Spectrum of projects relying on her intuition. Without artifice, she paints, glue, and spray women figures during the 1900’s, ranging from urban area or depicted from power portraits whom seem to have fight against slavery and for civil rights.

Undoubtedly, YZ’s work pursues the human, which is the most complex and most exciting, as the subject of her thematic guideline.

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All images are taken from the Amazone project webpage: http://yzart.fr/amazone/. No violation of copyrights intended.

 

Eye Correspondent Arka Alam is a visual artist based out of Calcutta. His key interest lies in fine art, photography and film.

 

If you have similar projects you would want on our zine, check out http://www.aneyezine.com/submissions and mail us at eye.ezine@gmail.com

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