WhiteBox “Out of the Box” Projects is pleased to present a screening of Bara Diokhane’s If Trees Could Talk, a documentary following the final months of legendary Senegalese artist Issa Samb (1945–2017), hosted by Issyra Gallery in Hoboken, NJ, marking a new collaboration for Out of the Box projects. In a festive celebration of Samb’s life and inimitable spirit, we invite you to join us for drinks, live music, and conversation after the screening.
Issa Samb(a), aka Jo(e) Ouakam was a Senegalese painter, sculptor, performance artist, actor, poet, art critic. He also used the name Ramangelissa as a playwright. Some call him the Shaman of African Art. Samb was a founding member of the seminal Laboratoire Agit-Art, an art collective founded in 1973 with goal of revitalizing artistic production, and critique institutional frameworks and the philosophy of Negritude in particular. His work combines influences from African traditions as well as 20th-century avant-garde movements including Dada, Surrealism, Situationism, and Fluxus. Samb’s work was exhibited at the Whitechapel gallery in London in 1995, and at the 2012 Documenta in Kassel, Germany. During the 2016 Dakar Biennale, he convened the “Midnight Congress”, a major multimedia exhibit that would be his last show before his death on April 24, 2017.
The film is primarily situated in Samb’s compound where he lived and worked, turning the outdoor courtyard into a constantly evolving, living installation. Samb’s artistic laboratory was under threat from developers in the last year of his life, and, despite community efforts to safeguard it for posterity, it was torn down shortly after his death. This film gives a rare glimpse into Samb’s life and the community he created around this now-lost space.