L'ombre des jours/The Shadow of Days
12/09 - 4/11/18

Thomas Chable is represented by Galerie Le Réverbère, Lyon, France.

Français | NL


© Thomas Chable, Sékota, Ethiopia, 2018

For quite a while now, my curiosity has been driving me towards the Horn of Africa. This part of Africa is neither charming nor welcoming, in the usual sense of those words. It is a rough, powerful, volcanic landscape that spreads out each side of the Rift Valley. It is not the Garden of Eden and even less a Paradise. (Though it was once…)
The people who inhabit this land are as one with it.
I thought I’d set off to Eritrea to see the distinctively Modernist 1930s architecture that remained from the Italian occupation, and while I was there I could drink some coffee. In Djibouti, I’d imagine I was Henry de Monfreid sailing a dhow on the Red Sea, looking over to the coast of Yemen, the land of khat and the Queen of Sheba.
Once I’d landed in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, a place of many contrasts, in encounter after encounter I kept telling myself that it was here and not there. I didn’t really have a choice, it imposed itself on me.

Mandéfrou took me to Gorgora, along the road that ends at the Port Hotel on the shore of Lake Tana (one of the two sources of the great River Nile). There I saw rickety boats made of reeds, just like the ones used on Lake Titicaca, and no doubt elsewhere on this funny old planet. On every trip I’d see him, sometimes just to say hello, sometimes to travel for a while together. He is always there.
Further East, in the Afar Depression, Mokonnen, the doctor who was always stitching up wounds took me to see the prehistoric site in the valley of the River Awash, inhabited by humans for the best part of 3.2 million years where the bones of ‘Lucy’ (an Australopithecus afarensis hominin) had been discovered on 24 November 1974, in the valley of the River Awash, which used to mark the frontier between the lands of the Issas and the Afars, between the highlands and the lowlands.
He didn’t trust a map to get there, but rather his own stubbornness and his lucky star.
For me, Lucy is the kind and symbolic grandmother of us all. It was from here that we all originated and spread to the four corners of the world. It’s the beginning of the history of us, the hominids.

I want to thank Mohamad Issé once again for the afternoon spent at his house and for the petrol, and also Ibrahim Wan, who, later, year after year, drove me from Semera to Dubti, via Assayta, and then on to Chiffra, often in the most improbable of circumstances, looking for, and meeting, the Afars. And also Mokonnen, who had the patience to take me, on the back of his motorbike, from one Afar camp to another. The Afars are semi-nomadic, moving around to find grazing for their flocks. They are not easy to follow, as a nomadic lifestyle is not for everyone. I’d also like to thank Abdallah, an Afar from Djibouti (a former French colony), whom I met at Alex Alemayo’s house, and who immediately invited me to visit his home in Kassaguita, a hamlet of a few houses, located where the nomadic routes crossed. Later, we met in his camp, miles from anywhere, with just the track along which people have travelled for a very long time, an essentially rocky universe where nothing grows apart from a few acacias. It was these encounters, these places, these I-don’t-know-whats, which were, at the end of the day, the reasons I’d first got on a plane to go there.

Thomas Chable

Translation: Chris Bourne.

THOMAS CHABLE was born in 1962 in Brussels. More about his work, here (PDF)


© Thomas Chable, Chiré, Ethiopia, 2011


Thomas Chable, L'ombre des jours
Size: 31 x 22 cm, 48 pages in selfcovering,
Four color printing, recto-verso, on 90g paper.
Limited edition: 150 copies, with the support of Contretype.
Price: 10 Euros.

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