Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review :: Paul Sika : At the Heart of Me

An Ivorian photomaking friend of mine, Paul Sika who I happened to meet at Maker Fair Africa in Accra last August, 2009 came out with his novel titled; “Paul Sika - at the Heart of Me...” which is out on sale now. I haven’t had the chance to read this inspiring novel yet but I happen to come across a review from one of the first buyers; Sci-Cultura. As you all know, I believe in data sharing a lot, so here we go…
"at the Heart of Me" Author - Paul Sika

Paul Sika, easily the hottest artist out of the African continent right now, has today launched his new photobook, “At the Heart of Me –> See his website and check out the trailer.

The befittingly self-proclaimed “Andy Warhol’s grandson” refuses to fit in a box (he negates that there is such a thing as a box) and this is reflected in his newly published photobook; where his inimitable vibrant images are presented, juxtaposed with prose that tells stories behind the people, locations and moments that played a part in creating his images, as well as stories of Paul Sika, the mortal, as he expresses his thoughts, his dreams, his encounters, his questions and his philosophies and sometimes how they relate to global on goings.

It is laudable that Sika explicitly refrains from explaining the stream of consciousness that informs and inspires the sets that he creates for his photo shoots and the subsequent photomaking* that births his trademark colorful explosions of intense theatrical art depicting urban African life as it has, to my knowledge, never been portrayed. He allows the onlooker the freedom to plunge in and decipher the meaning from wheresoever’s their soul takes him/her. Sika’s style may be likened to that of Dave Lachapelle but with this collection, he reinforces the mark that he’s created that left me thinking he isn’t like Dave Lachapelle, he is like Paul Sika.

It is hard to miss Sika’s naming of names – names that are brands – which admittedly I initially (mis)interpreted as the revelation of a desire to be recognized, iconographised and aptly positioned on the popular culture pedestal in their midst. But as I continued to turn the pages, it occurred to me that perhaps Sika names these names as an acknowledgment to the inspiration he draws from them. After all, this is At the Heart of Me that shares his desires, his heart. His inner heart’s desires.

At the Heart of Me is not one to be devoured hurriedly or without consideration. After all he is offering a glimpse into the core of him (as I understood the title), which deserves in the very least steadfast attention. It is to be leisurely savoured, gradually absorbing the 36 images and prose, one at a time. That the narrative doesn’t follow the predefined storyline sequence – beginning, middle and end – is a positive as one may leisurely dip in and out of his works randomly, perhaps revisiting them and seeing something new, or again yet differently, or both, or… It is your unique journey.

Put your lateral-thinking cap on (Sika is an avid connector) and get into the word play and rhymes that he weaves, revealing a poet (who knew?) as he challenges concepts and actions.

My personal take from Sika: the seemingly confident and unwavering creative exploration of passions and ideas is about getting into the flow. This includes flowing with life to where it may take you, which may sometimes mean not getting what you want. But that in itself could take you to an even more exciting place.

If there was a box, Sika wouldn’t fit into one anyhow.

*photomaking is a term Sika has coined for his ‘single-frame films’.
You still want more, right?

See a recent interview of Sika with CNN Inside Africa’s Isha Sesay, in response to recommendations via social media sites like Twitter. There is also a write-up on CNN Inside Africa, with a sideshow to whet your appetite for the book.

Credit : Sci-Culturist

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