Traces, Women’s Imprints
(TRACES, EMPREINTES DE FEMMES)

Katy Léna Ndiaye
France, Senegal 2003 | 56 Min. | DigiBeta, OmeU

Katy Léna Ndiaye’s doc­u­men­tary cen­ters around the expe­ri­ence of a group of women in Burk­i­na Faso: Three grand­moth­ers from the Kasse­na tribe who wish to impart their tra­di­tion­al art of paint­ing murals to their grand­daugh­ter. They hope that the young woman will carry on their spe­cial tech­niques of color cre­ation and detailed orna­men­ta­tion. Indeed, the Kasse­na women’s murals are famous far beyond Burk­i­na Faso thanks to their har­mo­nious use of colour and their exquis­ite designs. Ndiaye’s film shows how tra­di­tion and moder­ni­ty col­lide. The grand­daugh­ter feels she has little time to learn her elders’ artis­tic tra­di­tion, as she’d rather play foot­ball, and, unlike her grand­moth­ers, has a formal edu­ca­tion. The grand­moth­ers, for their part, each grew up at their mother’s side, only to be mar­ried off once they reached a cer­tain age. They share the mem­o­ries of their fam­i­lies and the sto­ries that lie behind the colour­ful paint­ings adorn­ing the walls of their homes. Through­out the course of the film, the grand­moth­ers grad­u­al­ly bring murals to life that cap­ture their expe­ri­ence. Nev­er­the­less, they are fully aware that a new era has dawned in Africa: “We’re only cre­at­ing these works for you [the film­mak­er] and for our grand­daugh­ter, Areti­na. We’re grate­ful to live in ren­o­vat­ed houses!” In this way, the film itself becomes a medium through which, at least for the moment, the women are able to pre­serve their tra­di­tion. With beau­ti­ful cin­e­matog­ra­phy and a del­i­cate touch, Katy Léna Ndiaye presents the arti-39 stry of these women as well as their attempts to pass it on to the next gen­er­a­tion.