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Manju Jatta

Traditions of storytelling coat my artistic practice. The Griot, a West African storyteller and oral historian stands at the root of my work. Next to the Griot is the Runemaster, a specialist in the carving of runestones. When I work, one stands on my left shoulder and the other on my right.  

I carve stories through a language of symbols inspired by places, objects, and traditions from The Gambia and Senegal as well as old Norse aesthetics and visually interpreted old Norse texts.  

And in the context of the white cube, I use these to tell parallel stories.  

I treat drawing and writing as one and the same. The Swedish word for sign is tecken and as a verb teckna means “to draw.” To draw becomes to write, to sign.  

The works themselves become remnants of acts of signing, or creating symbols that have inherent meaning and when I write, they take on new forms, new shapes as the grammar of the language composes the work.  

A few thoughts about the color blue in my work:  

I have used tree resin in a lot of my work, as it simultaneously tells of harm or violence and of healing. Bruises (blåmärken) bear these same traits.  

I use the photographic method cyanotype, to evoke (framkalla, or develop) the symbols I draw and carve, which give many of my work that specific hue of blue.  

In old Norse, the word blue was also the word for black. Texts mention blámenn and bláland (blue men and blue land) speaking of black people and Africa. The color blue becomes a medium for my work with black history in Sweden, or blackness and Swedishness.  

Bildgalleri, rulla i sidled för att se bilder.
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The Dark Matter Surrounding Vita Kuben (detail) (2024) Cyanotype on birch plywood
Installation view from The Dark Matter Surrounding–AKT 1, Galleri Mejan (2024)
The Dark Matter Surrounding Vita Kuben (detail) (2024) Cyanotype on birch plywood
The Dark Matter Surrounding Vita Kuben (detail) (2024) Cyanotype on birch plywood, linen and wood shavings