Nyaba Ouedraogo is a self-taught artist, born in 1978 in Bouyounou in Burkina Faso. He lives between Paris and Ouagadougou. The photographic vision of Nyaba L. Ouedraogo is imbued with documentary and aesthetic researches. These photographs are marked by a desire to narrate the multiple mutations of African societies.
Nyaba Ouedraogo has received several awards, as for instance the European Union Prize at the 9th Bamako Photography Meetings (2011). He is also a finalist for the 2010 Pictet Prize, and winner of the 2013 Photoquai Residences Musée du Quai Branly. He was nominated for the Pictet Prize in 2014 and the Prince Claus Prize in 2015.
Works by Nyaba Ouedraogo are collected by the Museum of Manchester (United Kingdom), Fondation Blachère and Musée du Quai Branly (France); as well as private collectors.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ARTISTIC PRACTICE? As a photographer, I used to say that nothing can be taken for granted. Everything is an eternal start. What matters is the inspiration that frees the creator genius. Taking that into account, what moves me, what attracts me is always, all the time, anywhere, to find the emotion that will help me to create images that make sense. Because I’ve always said that the most important thing for me in photography is not what it shows but what it translates. And in this photographic translation, only the emotion matters.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU WANT TO CONVEY THROUGH YOUR SERIES “THÉÂTRE POPULAIRE”? The Théâtre Populaire in Ouagadougou was a place of welcome and cultural effervescence created by President Thomas Sankara during the Revolution (1983-1987). This place, dedicated to the diffusion of artistic creation is now abandoned. In this documentary photographic work, poetry dialogues with Sankara’s vision about mural images aesthetic of this mythical place. The gaze I have through my lens aims at capturing the traces of the Burkinabe Revolution and the vision Thomas Sankara had of culture. Thomas Sankara claimed to his people that they had to dare to imagine the future. The Théâtre Populaire was a new space of identity. It was not a tool of communication dedicated only to the elites, as Thomas Sankara chose - starting from the very first events - to privilege the popular vein by addressing primarily the young people in and out of school, as well as other urban strata of the population.
WHY DID YOU PARTICULARLY CHOOSE THIS THEATER? For me, taking pictures of this mythical place is a poetical as well as a political act. There is no human society without culture and no culture without correspondence with a society. This quote has been inspired by Thomas Sankara’s thoughts.
WHAT DO THE MASKS YOU PHOTOGRAPHED IN YOUR SERIES “THÉÂTRE POPULAIRE” REPRESENT? The work here represents a peasant mask. In Burkina Faso, the mask is not an item to parade. It carries a spirit, an ancestor, a divine force. The man who wears it gives his identity to the mask and can communicate with it, with the spirits. Thus, the mask plays an essential role in the Burkinabe society.