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Friday, 3 June 2016


Adji Dieye is a Milan based photographer whose recent work 'MAGGIC CUBE' captivates the audience here in Dakar who were able to see her artistry throughout the Biennale season.

After seeing Dieye’s work I began to notice myself what she explains as the capital of Senegal being a ‘large publicity space’ from which no one can escape. This obsession with boil cubes and almost compulsory rule to include at least one in every prepared meal (guilty), makes you question how people have become consumed by multinationals and not the other way around.

Seeing as the Dak’art Biennale comes to a close this weekend I thought who better to ask a few questions about their work. I wanted to know more about the project and got in contact with Adji. I asked her a few questions to see what she had to say! Read our interview below.


­­­1.When did you first notice the excessive amount of  stock cubes campaigns around Dakar, Senegal?

I’ve always been fascinated by advertisement, I find it a great way to read a society's obsession and habits, so in 2012 when I came to Senegal after seven years, with the eyes of an adult, one of the first things I noticed was the amount and extent of bouillon cubes with Senegalese people. Everywhere I went there was an event or billboard related to this product, but somehow it looked kind of natural while I was still in Dakar as it is something very steeped into the Senegalese and African cuisines. But I guess I really noticed craziness of the bouillon cubes campaigns when I returned to Milan.

2. Why did you want to explore and document this in more detail?

In 2014 while I was doing my Erasmus program in Rotterdam at the Willem de Kooning Academy, I received an assignment from one of my photography professor about propaganda, so the relation with advertisement seemed quite obvious to me. Advertisement is a way to induce a society to behave in a certain utopian way and it surrounds us everywhere just like how a political propaganda would behave. So I started to reflect about the history of the African publicity as it was more appealing to me, starting from the firsts adverts made by colonialists in west Africa about beer and bread in particular.

The construction of this propagandistic campaigns had a very grotesque flavor. Africans were finally blending into their colonizer way of life, in somehow I found the difference with our days campaigns was very subtle.

The language used in most of the campaigns in Africa is quite obvious and funny in a sense, because it’s much more straight forward to its audience compared to the adverts in Western countries and it’s very much related to the local culture. Bouillon cube campaigns are a perfect example of that, an imported product that apparently had nothing to do with the African culture however appears everywhere in the urban and rural African soil as the most traditional and African ingredient. The slogans of this product aim give the impression of turning a woman into a star or that a man will not seek for a second wife thanks to the magic proprieties of the stock cubes, so semiotic language of this campaign became the focus my research.

3.What does Maggic signify/mean to you?

It’s simply a word pun that explains the visual relation created by the advertisement of stock cubes with the African local tradition. The cube became a key element in the African cuisine, spread all over the food as a magic potion, not for nothing stock cubes are called ‘magic cube’ in the popular jargon. It’s a synthesis between ‘magic cube’ and Maggi were the first stock cube brands imported to Africa after the Berlin Conference in 1885.

4.What was your most memorable encounter during the project?

The collaboration with the young curator Niccolò Moscatelli was a major help for the realization of the studio based project and the exhibition at the Institute Francais in Dakar. On the other side the report I made is an analytical observation born out of the collaboration with the journalist Andrea de Georgio who initiated an investigation on the impact of bouillon cubes in different countries in West Africa. Also the encounter with the graphic designer Carlo Cappuccini and the translator Dulcie Abrahams Altass, were fundamental on the study and for the exhibition.

For more of Adji Dieye's work check out her site.

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1 comment

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