In the village of Sinthian, we have long worked closely with Dr. Magueye Ba, who runs the medical center. With his support, we decided to create a site for artists from around the world to live and work in this community about ten hours from Dakar. It houses two artists’ residences and a public space for performances and village meetings. Toshiko Mori Architects of New York donated the remarkable design, which has already won international architectural awards. The roof collects and retains rainwater during the brief rainy season, creating a viable source for 40% of the village’s domestic water needs year round.
Dr. Ba believes as we do that, while medicine and education are essential, so is the opportunity to create and experience art. Thread enables artists from around the world, and from within Senegal, to advance their own work in this exceptional setting and to work with the regional population to rekindle artistic practices and facilitate new ones. Since opening, Thread has hosted artists from near and far — from Tambacounda and Dakar to Belgium, France, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. These artists have been rappers, painters, ceramicists, filmmakers and writers, and all have created extraordinary work in Sinthian, often in collaboration with the villagers.
Thread is also the base for Le Korsa’s agricultural program. The women’s collective of Sinthian operates a garden and fruit tree nursery on the site, and frequently uses it for meetings and workshops with Le Korsa agricultural coordinator Abib Dieye.
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation funded the construction of Thread, at a relatively low cost and dependent almost entirely on local materials. Despite our support and involvement in Thread’s program and construction, it is a building built entirely by the people of Sinthian, for the people of Sinthian.
Thread is the material of linkage. It is what holds things together, and it also provides endless opportunity, both of which are goals of the center. The word “thread” particularly honors Anni Albers, who, at age twenty-two, was instructed, by the great artist Paul Klee, “to take a line for a walk”; she decided to take thread wherever it might go. Anni said that this led her to realize that “you can go anywhere from anywhere,” and we have constructed Thread, and will assure its continuation, to give more people the opportunity to explore the world through art.
More information can be found on Thread’s website.