The Forest/Creative Loft is an experimental creative space that opened in May 2020 in Bali in the city of Douala Cameroon. The place is situated in the middle of two important neighborhoods with different vibes and social habits. One, Bonapriso, inhabits a very wealthy community, high class Cameroonians and expatriate workers. The other one, New Bell, is home for social workers and daily smugglers who are coming from different regions of Cameroon.
Between both communities, The Forest/Creative Loft decided to implant its roots under a philosophy based on the idea of the forest, a forest in the middle of an urban growing city that has defined itself as a very important artistic and cultural hub. A big challenge for a variety of musicians, poets, art critics, writers, journalists, visual artists, dancers, performers, film makers etc who all lack space of expression, of exhibition, of encounters. They all represent components of an ecosystem that need to be constantly refreshed and questioned in order to foster interesting rhythms and dynamics. It is that context, of absence and lack in the so rich cultural landscape which favors the idea of having a location dedicated to experiments.
In the common imagination of humans, the forest just represents this agglomeration of trees that gives it a taste of mystery. Its enigmatic aspect comes from the imaginations that tales and legends have produced in our imaginaries, the home for wild animals and invisible spirits. Still its apparent peacefulness attracts us.
What does it mean to leave as a forest philosophy and inside a forest?
A forest can be thought of as an unstable totality, one that abhors uniformity or conformity. A site of infinite signs and potentialities, a forest offers itself as a place with endless possibilities; both for positive outcomes as well as their opposites. A forest is a place to lose oneself, to reflect on our own existence and a place to find oneself through wandering, discovery, experimentation, and failing. Being in a forest means deeply questioning our being, our ways of being with the others.
One must possess an independent mindset that accepts the duties and responsibilities of emancipation to venture into the recesses of a forest. The vast networks and interplay between knowledge, practice, experience, sensing, and so on, permits an immanent regeneration of life and of possibilities in the situation of a forest.
The forest necessitates courage and a will for creating new opportunities and relationships with people and the natural environment. One cannot navigate the forest by individualistic means; they must carefully listen to the surroundings and must open up to collaborate with the multiplicity of human and non-human life forms, knowledge systems, and sensorial apparatuses already present in order to come to terms with the complexity of interactions in a forest.
One is to open up dimensions of speculation, of thoughts, and of practices, as it relates to creating artistic possibilities particularly in Douala but with networks outgrowing into other regions of the planet with a dear focus on the African continent. The Forest points its subject, interlocutor, or collaborator to the vast field of what is possible. Collectively, we formulate, create, and sustain new attitudes and approaches with which to confront inegalitarian regimes in our time and beyond.
These are the principles upon which The Forest Creative Loft was initiated by two beautiful souls: Chantal Edie Ntube and Zacharie Ngnogue.
The Forest Creative Loft is expecting a big range of visitors, guests, friends, family and collaborators to come and nurture the space collectively with us. Artists, students, young entrepreneurs, activists, scholars, writers, cultural professionals, neighbours, bayam sellam etc will be all welcomed to engage with the theme : Reinventing our dreams for the first two years of our existence.
The country is going through various internal crises which highlight the fragility of the foundations on which it was built. Boko Haram in the North, the war against the Cameroonian army and the Ambazonians in the North West and South West, are only the most obvious things next to unemployment, daily silenced hecatomb due to feminicides and rape of young children which future becomes uncertain.
Life in Cameroon is a daily life of mental, social, economic and political violence. Nothing seems to be going right anymore. In a country where more than half of the demographics is dominated by young people, the possibility for dreaming is gone.
People are dreaming of going away, of leaving the country and living somewhere else, others tired of trying to leave and not succeeding have entered into social habits that can be associated with what is called a zombie mode. In order to ignore their pains they have been locked themselves into bars and churches.
It is in this gloomy atmosphere that we wish to engage in a process of reparation. Two years may not be enough to cure the gangrene that has been forming for almost a century now.
We also want to go beyond repair to begin new possibilities of imaginations under self love, to consider our role in the making of the world.
Without ignoring the past and its aftermaths in our current life, we would like to engage in the making of a future on our own terms.
Kwasi Ohene- Ayeh and Aude Christel Mgba
©Zacharie Ngnogue, La colonne Pascal de Pascal Martine Tayou
Convaincu du fait que deux têtes valent mieux qu'une et qu'un seul bras ne peut attaché un fagot, nous avons invités des chercheurs, directeurs artistiques, commissaires d'exposition et autres professionnels de l'art a fin qu'ensemble nous réinventions nos rêves à partir de Bali.