Joseph Francis Sumégné
Joseph Francis Sumégné
Joseph-Francis SUMEGNE

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    Contrary to tradition, Sumengne’s sculptures are rarely ever made of stone or clay. But of solid minerals and solid chemicals. Thus various forms of solid and elastic materials. That by consequence, render his sculptures, less vulnerable to the actions of erosion and weathering. Scrap; of radio sets, television sets, vehicles, motorcycles: random mirrors, pieces of metal; iron rods, wires: all sorts of; glass, rubber, cowries, plastics, textiles; threads, copper; copper strings….in short, a babel of inorganic(industrial) materials, assembled and sewn together, in various forms, shapes and sizes. Hence his invention of a sculptural language called, JALA’A. Which is nothing else, but a lingua franca, made and meant to be used by materials with substantial and structural differences. Thus, a common language with which they can communicate: come together, as a unit: in form; figuratively, as humans, robots, and animals. Moreover, every Sumegne sculpture or mask, is basically a trialogue, between; humans, machines, and animals.

    The equation here is neither chaos or form: nor chaos and form. But chaos in form. His sculptures are not pictures of harmony: but of an ongoing reconciliation. They are photographs: still-images, of strange and contrasting things at the negotiating table: thus things no longer at war: and yet to be at peace. Images of a constructive discourse and not a chorus.

    Sumegne’s sculptures are generally refered to or defined as components of refuse. However, he doesn’t see or use refuse, as refuse. But refuse as the remains; skeletons, of the the value and the utility of our possessions. Thus, he doesn’t see trash cans: he sees dustbins or ‘bonebins’: not our refuse, but our remains: the remains of our organic and inorganic possessions. Especially our inorganic possessions or our skeletons: who have become useless and yet more durable than they were, when they were useful or ‘alive’. Nevertheless, by creatively bringing them together, Sumegne, brings them back to life: back to usefulness: a new life: a new form of usefulness: a tactile and yet not a tactile form of usefulness: thus a visual and an imaginative form of usefulness. Plus, the heart and breath of these sculptures, neither reside in their chests nor in their nostrils, but in their eyes…precisely in their irises.

    Sumegne is firstly an artist. Secondly a thinker: and almost thirdly an environmentalist. As an artist, and not an activist: he believes in the prescience of aesthetics over ethics. He doesn’t deal with things ‘as such’ but things ‘such as’. Not dirt as pollution or waste, but dirt as what or whoever has been or is being rejected…never recycling dirt. But the dead.

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