Invaded by a spectrum of shimmering and eery greens, Nsenene by Michele Sibiloni follows the nocturnal harvest of grasshoppers in Uganda. These insects are a sought-after commodity, a local delicacy, and they migrate en masse only twice a year, which is why anyone hoping to catch them needs to be prepared. In cities across the country, immediately after the rainy season, hundreds of more or less artisanal traps are set up: electric lamps and metal sheets form complicated structures that attract and imprison grasshoppers. Night after night, many Ugandans stay up until dawn to catch these creatures. The omnipresence of the shiny insects amidst the night fog and the smoke of the bonfires engulfs the whole country in an otherworldly atmosphere, creating an eerie effect fueled by the bizarre paraphernalia involved, the tools and the imaginatively crafted traps.
Michele Sibiloni’s installation at Mucho Mas! develops not through photographs, which can be found in the book published by Patrick Frey in 2021, but in the form of a ten-minute video accompanied by a hypnotic, deafening audio. In the completely darkened gallery, the unreal, suffocating and otherworldly atmosphere submerges us, we too become part of this scenario that we imagine as hot, humid, excited and poetic. The video presented is an excerpt from a yet unreleased feature film. On the walls, in the semi-darkness, only a few images surround the installation. A portrait of a young collector contains many levels of this story which, starting from the reportage, is loaded with expressive meanings and digresses from video art. On another wall, the map tells us the distribution of collection sites, in areas where forests, wetlands and favorable winds made it easier to predict the arrival of locusts. In recent years, however, the forests have been replaced by palm or vanilla cultivation, forcing the insects to migrate. Even the winds blow irregularly due to sudden changes in the climate, making it unpredictable to know where they will stop for the mating season, the one during which hunting takes place.
Documenting the collection of ensenene in Uganda, Michele Sibiloni tells of an activity that straddles the extremely thin line between past and future, between tradition and modernization.