Arnold Grojean (BE) "KOUNGO FITINI (Minor Issues)" - Helphoto 2020




KOUNGO FITINI (Minor Issues)
This project focuses on the lives of Bamako’s street children, a growing phenomenon in West Africa, and has been realized through three journeys to the capital of Mali. Trust has become a notion extremely delicate in the street environment. Indeed, the survival state predominates and it can be very dangerous to trust anyone. These outcasts of society have also lost trust in society itself as well as for most of them, in their own mother. Paradoxically, this work would not have been possible without the trust that the children put in the photographer. The community of street children is an unapproachable world, an entering of which requires permission of the chief and is only possible after a long and immersive presence in the area. This trust has grown throughout the first stage of the project, during which Grojean spent 6 months organizing workshops, in which he taught the children to use some analog cameras and encouraged them to express themselves and their reality through the photographic and oral medium. 

The second stage emerged two years later when Grojean decided to also take pictures of the street children in their living spaces at night. This part of the project has only been possible thanks to the whole process of trust established between the children and the photographer. The result of this work, created throughout several years in close interaction with the children, takes form in ten different booklets: One booklet containing the pictures Grojean took of the children, eight booklets made of pictures and texts created by the children themselves and a lexicon of contextual details about Malian culture and definitions of the words used in the children’s comments.

Arnold Grojean (b. 1988) is a Belgian artist who studied photography at Le Septantecinq, a college of visual art in Brussels. He currently works between Belgium and Mali. Arnold discovered West Africa for the first time in 2007 and realized most of his artistic work in Mali. KOUNGO FITINI (Minor Issues), his main artistic project, was realized together with the street children of Bamako and received several prizes such as the Roger De Conynck prize in 2015, the Mediatine prize in 2017, and the Contretype prize in 2018. It was voted a favorite by professionals at Visa pour l’ANI in 2017 and has been exhibited in numerous galleries and art institutes, including the Parisian gallery Fait & Causes.

Arnold Grojean (BE) "KOUNGO FITINI (Minor Issues)" - Helphoto 2020
Arnold Grojean (BE) "KOUNGO FITINI (Minor Issues)" - Helphoto 2020