The project Tales of the Nomadic City is a generative anthropological index of urbanisation in Nouakchott, the capital city of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Juxtaposing a variety of photographic practices and formats, video and film works, vernacular and official archives, and ethnographic methods, the project affords a kaleidoscopic view of urbanization from the urban fringes, inviting inhabitants to participate actively in the writing of the history of the city.
Since 2004, I have conducted 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Nouakchott, obtaining access and rights of use to a variety of local archives (photographs, documents, film footage, maps, satellite, and aerial images) in addition to doing photography, film and in-depth interviews and photo elicitation of official and vernacular archives with inhabitants of the city. Through this work, I have collected a wealth of material, aiming to provide a nomadic reading of urban ephemerality in this largely undocumented and unique setting. Each of the 5000+ medium-format negatives in the series are registered with GPS coordinates, constituting a comprehensive mapping of this mutating metropole. This will enable future engagements and the construction of an archive chronicling urban transformation.
An early iteration of the project was awarded the Prix HSBC pour la Photographie in 2016 and edited into a book published the same year (‘Ville Nomade’, Actes Sud). Since then, I have presented the material in international research-based exhibitions, and I am working on an experimental feature documentary with film material recorded over more than a decade, in addition to a monograph containing images and text.