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Claudio Viezzoli | profile | all galleries >> A trip to Kgalakgadi tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

A trip to Kgalakgadi

The idea for this short diary of a trip to Botswana came to me when, in 1998, I saw for the first time the imaginative publication from Horst Klemm, “An African Journal”. I have been since thinking about a similar composition of pictures and objects from Africa. When I eventually managed to go back to Botswana two years later with Francesco, my travel companion, I made sure I could accumulate as much findings as possible. As our trip progressed through the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, different objects stratified under the seats of our Land Rover: stones, acacia thorns, branches from mopane trees, impala lower jaws, dried insects and several plastic bags overloaded with sand. Francesco witnessed this progressive sedimentation of seemingly useless objects with bewilderment and amusement, which turned into nuisance every time he found leaves of wild sage stuck in his night-clothes. While in the Guma Lagoon, Francesco gathered several water lilies. He wanted to bring them back to Europe. I found some reasons to be amused myself, a little revenge in fact, when he discovered why they are called “one day flowers”: after less than 24 hours they were dead rotten.

All objects depicted in the pictures are real findings brought back from Africa and composed on brown cartonboards on the floor of my living room. The shots where slides taken with a manual 35mm camera, then scanned in high resolution. No objects was added with the help of Photoshop. The quality in this gallery is not great, but the prints 70x35 came out actually very good.

I collected the dark reddish sand depicted in several pictures in the Central Kalahari, while the lighter one came from the sand ridge in the Savuti: I managed to fill a couple of bags, when we got stuck the deep sand of the Savuti ridge. I found the impala lower jaw around a water hole in Nxai Pan. The Guinea Fowl feathers were gathered (not directly from the hosts) in the Moremi Reserve. The stick is what remains of a branch of a mopane tree chewed by a male elephant in Linyanti. The drawings in several pictures are replicas of San rock paintings which I made in South Africa and Botswana, some from the cliffs of Gobabis Hill in the Savuti. The basket one of the pictures was made by a member of a co-operative of women in Etsha 13, a former settlement of refugees from Angola. The leaves in the same picture are from bushes of wild sage. These bushes diffuse a strong, inebriating smell all over Northern Botswana. The maps used as a background in several pictures are flight maps with GPS benchmarks, which we used during our trip.

I collected some of the other objects displayed during other past visits to Africa. Most of the stones came from the surreal Skeleton Coast in Namibia, where they could be found scattered around as if just erupted by a vulcano. The black ones are made of kimberlite, a distant, unfortunate relative of the diamond. The sleeping device (technically, a pillow) in one picture was gathered in Merca, Somalia. The bird-like and snake-like woods are small objects carved out of acacia tree roots by young Kavango kids in Northern Namibia. They sell them along the way to the Etosha and Rundu for 1 Namibian Dollar. The spear in one of the pictures comes from a long, successful barter with a young Masai shepherd in Tanzania. The barter was successful for him, obviously.

Although this small work is not more than a faded replica of Klemm’s far superior publication, I enjoyed working on it, as it kept alive the memory of Botswana and made the cold and rainy London winter (barely) tolerable.
A trip to ... Front page
A trip to ... Front page
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