Baney Clay: An Unearthed Identity is a milestone in my personal journey to connect with my own ancestry and blackness.
The title, Baney, comes from my dad’s home village in Equatorial Guinea, where the clay I have used comes from. Baney is located in the Bioko Norte Province of Bioko, the largest island in EG where the capital Malabo is.
With this collection I aim to question the ‘norm’ in Art. How Southern art has historically been considered ‘primitive’ or ‘exotic’ and belittled; how when it comes to Pottery - a traditionally female craft -, when the wheel is invented and men take over, hand-built pots - mostly made by women within their domestic compounds - are taken for granted and assigned no artistic value.
I believe that progress will only come when patriarchy is over; when colonialist and Western-centric views are a thing of the past and the North and the South are one; when the South stops being ‘the back yard’ of Western countries.
And so, I have brought all these concepts together through clay: the Baney pieces are made with different mixtures of Stoneware or Porcelain and my Baney Clay, it being an allegory of the South and Women.
This piece is very special for different reasons. Firstly, it is made with clay from my dad’s village, which I have visited only once until we go back in April 2023. Having grown up in Spain, rather detached from my African roots, this piece (and the project it belongs to) was instrumental in my own personal journey. It allowed me to embrace my ancestry, who I am and to connect with this half of me that I had been less in touch with until then. Ceramics wise, it was the first time that I worked on a project of this kind including research. Until I started developing the Baney Clay project, I had mostly been making functional ware. Since making this piece my practice has changed dramatically. I also learnt that my work had to be more political and tell the stories that mattered to me; which I have been doing since.
The main one is Kouame Kakaha’s work, a woman potter born Tanoh Sakassou in Ivory Coast (ca. 1960). When I first saw her work online and used it as inspiration for the project, I didn’t realise that there was a name behind the piece, which was a huge mistake. It was later that I noticed that she was the maker. Despite her work having been sold by Sotheby’s — on whose website I had found the piece — and her work being in different museums in the US, there is barely any information about her. Thus, I decided to embark on a new journey: to find out more about her work and her story. A project that is still on-going. Other than that, the inspiration mainly comes from the making ethics I had seen and experienced while working with women potters in Mexico and Morocco. Their connection to the land, their respect and understanding of it, and the love and care they approach their practices with, accompanied and inspired me while making this piece.