Antoine Tempé is a French-American photographer living and working in Dakar, Senegal.In 2000, Antoine left the world of finance to dedicate his life to photography. He embarked on a one-year photographic journey through West Africa and Madagascar. From this trip, he returned to the US with an enhanced passion for the continent and for its contemporary dance. This lay the foundation for several bodies of work, among which Dancers of Africa and Faces of Africa have been exhibited worldwide, among other places; at the African Photography Biennial in Bamako, Mali (2007), the Fondation Zinsou in Cotonou, Benin (2011), the African Contemporary Art Biennial in Dakar, Senegal (2012), and at the Foundation Donwahi in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (2015).
Dakar, is fast turning into a modern metropolis, complete with highways, luxury stores, fashionable nightclubs and five-star hotels on beautiful beach fronts. However, one will quickly realize that another reality still exists right in its midst; next to the modern urban economy and closely intertwined with it, one will encounter ways of life and consumption habits more related to the rural Senegal from 50 years ago; armed with an old enamel bathtub and a dingy compressor, the “vulganisateur” who repairs punctured tires sits with a camping gas burner and a plank table, the street “cuisinière” sells a complete meal for the equivalent of one US dollar, just in front of a lavish restaurant.
I have dedicated my “Waa Dakar” project to these tradespople. I felt it was important to celebrate them now, not only because of their social standing in the city, but also to bear witness to their significance before they disappear from the cityscape, victims of globalization and development. I chose to take their portraits on or next to their workplace. They are wearing their work clothes, but I elected to isolate them from their work environment through the use of a background series. Sometimes they hold the tools of their trade, sometimes not. My instructions to them were to look at the camera and be themselves. I also conducted recorded interviews where I asked them to talk about their aspirations for themselves and for the city of Dakar.