In Ivory Coast, used phones end up in works of art

In Ivory Coast, used phones end up in works of art
In Ivory Coast, used phones end up in works of art

Ivory Coast : An “ecological and committed” artist, the Ivorian Désiré Mounou Koffi gives a second life to old discarded mobile phones by recycling them into colorful paints. Its goal? Raising awareness of the fight against pollution in his works which he exhibits in Abidjan until July.

“I chose recycling because I didn’t want to limit my work to just painting. I wanted to bring something new,” he told AFP in his workshop in Bingerville, near the Ivorian economic capital.

At 28, he defines himself as a “young contemporary artist” and asserts his desire to “stand out from the others”.

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“Since childhood I have been passionate about drawing. It was me that the teacher sent to the blackboard to do the illustration drawings for the lessons”, he recalls.

And when he told his farmer parents from a village in the south-west of Côte d’Ivoire that he wanted to go to an arts school: “they didn’t know what it was”, he explains. “My plastic arts teacher came to explain to them and ask them to let me do it”.

After graduating from the Beaux-Arts in Abidjan, he began by criss-crossing the streets, the gutters, the dumps to recover keyboards and screens from old mobile phones.

“Now I have a whole team that is paid according to the quantity it brings back. I told them + do not throw away any more, bring the elements and we can work”, he says.

– “To raise awareness” –

In his workshop, he is left with large bags filled with recovered telephone components.

Désiré Mounou Koffi digs through the pile of keyboards and screens to choose the elements from which he will draw colorful human silhouettes in urban settings, “pop” canvases, some of which sell for 1,500 euros.

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He claims to try “to solve a problem”, in a country where selective sorting is almost non-existent and where waste ends up in the streets.

“Most of my paintings speak of the daily life of man in society. However, I think that the telephone is the tool closest to us, currently. In our telephones, there is almost everything”, explains t- he.

“We find everything in our trash cans… I try to bring people to awareness. It’s a very down-to-earth way of raising awareness”, continues the one who has already exhibited in Morocco, Belgium and in France.

Anxious to stick to the news, his paintings can address child soldiers, pollution, traffic jams or floods.

One of his latest series “La vie d’ici”, thus tells the daily life of the inhabitants of Abidjan.

After a first exhibition in Côte d’Ivoire, in the coastal town of Bassam, it is exhibited until July at the Donwahi Foundation in Abidjan.

He is expected in the exhibition “Africa! La Renaissance en marche!”, as part of the “off” of the Dakar Biennale, from May 19 to 29.

The article is in French

Tags: Ivory Coast phones works art


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