Ican Ramageli (b. 1988, Senegal) is an artist who works with video, photography, performance, painting, and music.
The film Joe Ouakam, le berger (2015) follows the path of seminal Senegalese artist Issa Samb, who is one of the founding members of the Laboratoire Agit’Art. Samb is an internationally recognized artist known for his groundbreaking, interdisciplinary work that encompasses sculpture, performance, painting, and theatre.
Samb has joined the long tradition of artists who do not produce artworks. He is an artist who instead constructs their own life as a personal masterpiece – sometimes it is even their sole work of art – because they do not need to create artworks to be seen as artists by their contemporaries. An artwork may occasionally be produced or never at all, but either way this has nothing to do with their status as artists. Samb carries on this ancient tradition with aplomb and, by giving Senegal a key role in this peculiar global history of ‘artists without anything’, he invites all of us to ask what dreams we have in common or what drives us to persist in producing, accumulating, hoarding, selling, buying, earning, overtaking, conquering.
With Joe Ouakam, le berger, Ramangeli pays tribute to a man he knows well, who he sees as inspirational. As Ramangeli explains – as Diogenes did in ancient Athens – Samb astounds contemporary Dakar with his decision to live an excellent life out of nothing, a beautiful life without anything: no salary, no sales, no home of his own, no luggage when he travels, no electricity in the centre of Dakar, no appliances old or new, no telephone, no boss, no guide, no obligations. He often lives without speaking, without eating, and of course always without working, without … anything. Samb does not reprimand other people for using things he does not use himself. He doesn’t rebuke anyone or anything. As devoted as he is to evaporation, scarcity, frugality, and emptiness – to nothingness. He has one treasure in abundance: his love of other people and of universal liberty.