Seni Camara lives with her husband and family in the village of Bigona, in the Casamance region in southern Senegal. Working outside the local tradition of making pots and “useful” objects out of clay, Seni claims that through a “gift of God” she has been able to create thousands of bizarre, magnificent creatures — clay sculptures of astonishing originality. Although the villagers don’t know quite what to make of Seni and her art, she continues to work to support her family and to satisfy her own creative urge. The film follows Seni and her husband as they prepare the materials of her art. Together they dig up the hard dirt of the land and slowly mix it with water and sand until the clay is ready to be molded (she tells by taste). While Seni does the intense work of shaping the wet clay into her truly original forms, her husband prepares the final dye bath by harvesting and soaking wild nuts in water. Finally they fire the sculptures and dye them. Seni then carries her creations to the market where she sells them to the occasional western tourists (for the equivalent of four to one hundred dollars) who happen to stumble onto her market stall. There her sculptures share space along with the vegetables and other odds and ends on her table.
Seni’s work is powerful — strange half human creatures giving birth to other, little laughing creatures, each stranger than the last. Heads come out of knees and bodies grow out of other bodies. They are Seni’s fertility sculptures — her children. Seni's Children provides a wonderful example of an artist who uses traditional materials to make strikingly new and original work. The film has an original music score by the West African musician Foday Musa Suso.
Also available in 16mm prints for theatrical and nontheatrical screenings.
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