Non-Aligned ("Non Alignés"), by Aurélien Froment
Shot in 2016 in and around Dakar, Non-Aligned by Aurélien Froment is a series of three videos that illustrate a surprising cultural exchange between India and Senegal.
A versatile artist
Now based in Edinburgh, Aurélien Froment is one of the most prominent French artists in the world of contemporary art. Born in 1976 in Angers, he completed his studies at the Ecole supérieure des beaux-arts in Nantes, Brittany in 2000, while simultaneously obtaining his diploma as a director of photography.
Aurélien Froment's work uses different media, including cinema, installations and exhibitions. Most often, he begins from existing material to offer a new interpretation and create tension between images, objects and historical context, as with The Ideal Funeral Monument of Ferdinand Cheval (“Le Tombeau idéal de Ferdinand Cheval”) (2013): this work brings together photographs of the monument constructed by the postman Cheval by isolating each detail of the stone structure using a black curtain.
Aurélien Froment has exhibited his work at the Venice Biennial in 2013 (Camillo's Idea), at the Sydney Biennial in 2014 (The Ideal Funeral Monument of Ferdinand Cheval) and the Dakar Biennale in 2016 (Non-Aligned).
Portrait of a cultural exchange
Made up of a series of three videos less than 10 minutes long, Non-Aligned was shot by Aurélien Froment in 2016 in Dakar and Pikine, near the Senegalese capital.
The French artist filmed several Senegalese artists, notably the singer Ousmiane Dallo and the dancer Fatim Diop, during performances inspired by Indian culture and Bollywood's cinematographic heritage.
Non-Aligned deals with the cultural hybridization between India and Senegal that Aurélien Froment links back to the Non-Aligned movement: under the leadership of Nehru, then Prime Minister of India and of Senghor, President of the Republic of Senegal, these two countries refused, during the Cold War, to align themselves with either of the two blocs.
An Indian in Senegal
Aurélien Froment was inspired by the work of Somnath Mukherjee, an Indian dance teacher who teaches in Senegal.
After having cycled around the world beginning in Calcutta in 1982, Somnath Mukherjee took a break in Senegal. There, he settled in Pikine near Dakar and met Amadou Badiane, an indophile Senegalese singer who invited him to stay.
Mukherjee would never get back on his bike. A few years later, in the 1990s, he created the Bharat-Pehchane Association (“The Identity of India”), with the aim of sharing Indian cultural heritage through the Hindi language, dance, singing and cinema. It was this project that Aurélien Froment wanted to showcase by filming Somnath Mukherjee’s students.
Non-Aligned was co-produced in 2016 by Dak'Art, the Dakar Contemporary Art Biennial, in collaboration with the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin for the exhibition “Historica – Republican Aesthetics”.
In 2017, the film was part of his personal “Contes Doubles” (“Double Stories”) exhibition at the Musée M in Louvain, Belgium. On this occasion, he combined Non-Aligned with another film, Voices of the World (“Le Chant du monde”), where the Senegalese singer Amadou Badiane was featured covering Indian songs.
Through his work, Aurélien Froment offers a perspective on the often-invisible processes of cultural exchange and sketches the outlines of a globalised art where the work and its universal message matter as much as the local context in which they are rooted.
Non-aligned (“Non alignés”) was exhibited in 2017 at Musée M in Louvain as part of EXTRA.
This event, supported by the Institut français, offers a guided path through contemporary French creation, blending visual arts and live performances.