Rond Point Colobane.
Photography by Dani Pujalte, Interview by Natalie Malheiro.
NM: Tell us a little bit about your backstory. Where are you from? When did you start taking photos?
I’m from Barcelona, my father is born in Algeria and my mother is Catalan. I was raised by my mom and my uncle. My mom was really young when she had me. A fond memory I have from my youth is that my mom and I moved from apartment to apartment so many times.
DP: I start taking pictures with my friends when I was a teenager but I stopped before finishing school. After high school I went to University where I studied Law. After studying law for 3 years I decided to come back to photography.
NM: What is your approach to photography? How do you keep yourself inspired?
DP: My approach to photography is really simple. I photograph things that I’m attracted to, it’s something really instinctive. I photograph people, flowers, my girlfriend, objects, landscapes, interiors, buildings and streets. To keep inspired I really like to put myself in new and somewhat uncomfortable scenarios. I take every moment i get to travel. It doesn’t need to be super far; a weekend in a friends house or a new work location. I try not to be visually bored.
NM: Where was this series taken? What drew you in about this country?
DP: ’Rond Point Colobane' is the first name I gave to this series you’re looking at. These photos are the results of the first trip I made to Senegal two years ago. It was really short trip because I didn’t have a lot of time. It was a very intense 5 day trip.
In the Summer of 2012 my Mom was at the beach in Sitges when she met Max. At the time he was 27 years old, like me. He was selling "pareos” which are sunglasses. Over the summer my Mom and Max became friends. Max shared his life story with my Mom. After hearing it myself I was touched by Max’s migration story from Senegal. My mom and I started to help Max and he became a member of our family.
Max is from Dakar, Senegal. At the end of July 2016, Max wrote me on facebook letting me know he was in Dakar visiting his family. Coincidentally, I was on a plane headed Dakar the very next day. I am not sure why I was going there but I guess I was moved by his story.
My series 'Rond Point Colobane' follows the trace of a path drew on the ground of an unknown city. There I sink into Max's life. The magic of coincidence placed me in this scenario so I decided to chase the journey with my camera and all that surrounded me. I couldn’t help place myself in Max’s world. As if we grew up together as brothers.
NM: The snap shot style of photography in this series feels like a visual diary, almost like you are trying to capture the moment in its purest form for your memory. Is this idea something you gravitate to within your photography?
DP: I made different types of projects, more politic based like 'Cultural Containers', or more conceptual like 'Good Luck With The Future’. I always keep my small camera in my pocket as a daily life assignment. My art stems from being awake and to always keep my eyes open. to be awake and keep your eyes open.
As for 'Rond Point Colobane’ I was just really happy to be there with Max. We shared so many great memories like all day, having fun, eating, meeting friends. Everything was new for me, I was like a kid with a new toy. I think this translated through my photos.
NM: Who are the subjects in your photos, and how did you meet them? Did any of them have interesting stories you can share?
DP: One of my subjects is my step brother Max. He is now in Germany working.
Three other men that I shot, who i had a funny encounter with. I was in Saint Village Touba, because this village is sacred, people can’t smoke cigarettes anywhere. Coming back home one day I found a photostudio. I went inside and met three young men. They asked if they could take a portrait of me as a souvenir. After we start talking and i explained to them that I was actually a photographer, so they asked me to photograph them as well. We had a lot of fun creating weird poses!
NM: The use of texture and colour in this series is quite vibrant through contrast. Is this something you tried to incorporate in this series?
DP: I think this is just a side effect of photography in Senegal. It is impossible to photograph Africa and not include colours and textures. These aspects are everywhere. I think this is why I am so inspired by Senegal. From my last trip I came back with 50 kilos of African fabrics. I am preparing for an exhibition with the pictures and a small installation of tissues. It’s really, really beautiful. Im looking forward to it.
NM: Do you have any upcoming projects coming up you’d like to share with us?
DP: In addition to this project I am also preparing the exhibition in Mexico with my friend Pol Agustí. I would like to make a publication as well.