Theresa Traore Dahlberg

Black Archives Sweden has spoken to the visual artist and filmmaker, Theresa Traore Dahlberg about her work and relation to family archives.

Words by: Theresa Traore Dahlberg Published on: 5 March, 2021

How do you work with (relate to) your family archive: photographs, films, sound collections, memories, oral histories?

I have worked a lot with my family archive. My father’s life work- the production company and factory, Seydoni Productions has formed the foundation to many of my installations and video works. I have for example used the machines that were used to bring music to a country [in my work], and have also created an installation with cassette tapes. Through this process, questions about changes in values, technological shifts and cultural values have risen for me. 

I am currently involved in a collaboration with the Museum of Ethnography, where they have opened up their archives to me. A specific work in the archives has inspired me to develop new work centered around my grandmother’s recorded oral histories.

You have shared with us a visual material that is connected to your family. Why this particular material? 

It is a promotional video that illustrates a vision. 

What does the (black) archive mean to you?

The black archive allows for a deeper perspective than what I have previously been exposed to or had access to. [It is about] rendering visible. Inspirational and significant in every way. 

You can read more about Seydoni Productions below:

The production company Seydoni was founded in 1998 by the artist’s father, Richard Traore, a pioneer of the music industry in Burkina Faso. By creating a national platform for production and distribution, the predominant production patterns were broken when music had previously been recorded in other countries and then imported.

Seydoni established an infrastructure for the entire production chain by starting business associations, arranging competitions and concerts, and training for example music producers, sound engineers, editors and industrial technicians.

In 1998, they also started the country’s first cassette factory, which during its first two years produced an average of 20,000 cassettes a day from 350 different artists with over 1.6 million albums sold. As the technology progressed, the cassette tape soon became outdated and the production closed in 2005. 

In connection with the Beckers Art Award,  granted to the artist in 2019, she revived the discontinued cassette factory. The machines were restored and exhibited at the Musée national du Burkina Faso in the exhibition Seydoni Pionnier de l’industrie musicale au Burkina, which run parallel to the exhibition the artist had at Färgfabriken (Feb 2 –March 24 2019).

About Theresa:

Theresa Traore Dahlberg is a visual artist and filmmaker who formulates and mediates engaging complex narratives through sculpture, photography, and film.

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