"LES CREUSEURS DE SOUS-SOL"
In the continuity of his work about workers, drawing the attention alternatively on tradesmen, electricians and hairdressers, Jean David Nkot sheds light on those who work within mines in his new series “Les creuseurs de sous-sol.” The ores they extract from the soil are demanded by international companies to be integrated into our smartphones and other electronic equipment. Their exploitation is often the object of armed conflicts. Acknowledging the challenges around him after reading Christophe Boltanski's book Blood Minerals: Slaves of the Modern World, 2014, Jean David Nkot thought initially to borrow the first part of its title to name his series. He finally chose “Les creuseurs de sous-sol”, leaving behind any dramatic dimension to focus on the men, rather than the matter.
“You, who will take time to take a picture of us, ask yourself the question: at what price do you talk on the phone, do you surf on the web or do you take pictures of your beloved ones?”
Willing to depict the human condition, Jean David Nkot pushes us to question the way the items we use daily are manufactured. Concerning the ore - cassiterite - the men who extract it are invisible and ignored by most of society.
Thus, as a defender of those whom History forgets, Jean David Nkot draws our attention to those who work in the shadows in order to satisfy our lust for modern comforts. A recurring pattern seen in his work is that of a reinterpretation of a map, used to amplify his speech. In his canvas #firstname.lastname@example.org, the names of armed groups replace those of the cities, the names of the ores – the true items of contention - occupy the lands. The workers in the foreground hold a proud and fixed gaze, dreaming about somewhere else. This is, thus, a note of hope. Whilst showing what we choose not to see, Jean David Nkot aims to wake up consciences.
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