Interview of Jean David Nkot - January 2020

Posted by Julie Mathon on

Interview of Jean David Nkot

Jean David Nkot - Cité internationale des arts 2018Jean David Nkot during his residence at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2018, creating his series "Les indésirables".

Did Paris Cergy's "Moving Frontiers" 
program play an important role in the progression of your work?

JD - The "Moving Frontiers" program has been important in the evolution of my work. It was as a result of this project that the theme of migration imposed itself on me. It also opened the doors of one of the most important residences of my career at la Cité Internationale des Arts.
The latter has also given birth to the project "The undesirables" which continues with the new series "The Shadows of Space" which will be presented by Afikaris in Morocco at 1-54 Marrakech Art Fair in February 2020.

Do you consider yourself a politically engaged artist?

JD - I would not go as far as saying that I am a committed artist.
What I do know is that before being an artist, I am a human being who lives in a society, in a space in a changing world.
Thus, transformation is a subject that speaks to me and concerns me. I want things to change and I need to talk about it, make this problem visible and create dialogue spaces to discuss it.

Art offers us the possibility and the means, both ideological and aesthetic, to say things that speak to everyone, and this is at this specific moment that my artistic practice takes place. I'm just using these tools to draw attention to this time of changes. As an artist, I would like to immortalize these changes so that no one is ignorant of what happened during this period.

You paint from photographs of people in your neighborhood. Why this method and how do you choose your models?

JD - For me, working from a photo gives me the possibility of continuing to observe my subjects, even after their departure because it is the only thing that allows me to still have a connection with them.

My models are above all friends, brothers, companions for going out.
It is in these moments of sharing - when everyone talks about their dreams, their projects, how they would like to become a man who could also help their family - that the discussion takes shape and makes it possible to realize that most dream of going to Europe and some have already traveled more than once.

The photo sessions result from these long discussions, sometimes in groups, sometimes in private.

How does your work tend to evolve ? Future projects?

JD - I cannot say at the moment towards which direction my work tends. I know that it will evolve over the course of my meetings and my readings. For the moment, I let my work leading me to new horizons.

 This does not mean that I have no plans. For example, in May, my work will be presented in 1-54 New York and then in London. I also have other projects but I cannot say more for the moment.