Bródno Sculpture Park. Chapter III
Youssouf Dara and Paweł Althamer
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„Toguna” is a project of Paweł Althamer in the Bródno Sculpture Park, tied with the fascination of the artist in the Dogon culture, an African ethnic group inhabiting the south-center of Mali in the west of Africa.
Althamer underwent his first journey to the Dogon land in the year 1991, recognizing that this experience „awoke and changed his awareness.” The ethnic group believes that it came from space, landing several thousand of years ago next to lake Debo in a galactic ark. During his second journey to the Dogons in 2009, accompanied by a couple of the inhabitants from Bródno, Althamer met a sculptor called Youssuf Dara. He decided to invite him to Warsaw with a special mission-building an African toguna in Bródno.
Toguna – a wooden hut with a thick roof, leaning on carved columns-is an essential place for the Dogon people, being a place designed for gatherings and discussions of the villagers. The construction, which is rising next to he Bródno Park, is not only a potential place for community integration, it is supposed to undergo a prosaic function of a bus stop. An integral part of the Althamer's new Bródno project is likewise another journey – a pilgrimage of the artist and his friends to Mali, from where they will return accompanied by the Dogon sculptor.
Author of the Bródno toguna will be a newcomer, the messenger from another world, landing in Bródno, almost like in the Dogon beliefs, aboard a cosmic ship in the midst of the African savanna. Art plays an very important role in the Dogon life – due to the magical skills of the artists the Universe is kept alive. Once in 60 years in the Dogon villages is Sigui, an eight year lasting ritual of the „renewal of the Universe”. The key role during the ritual is played by the Mother of Masks-a several meters wooden structure built, every time anew, by the tribal sculptor.