0:09 SOPPELSA: It’s our first visit to Benin, we are basically introducing ourselves to
0:27 a number of artist who we hope we can include in the connection we’re building for the
0:35 new American embassy which will open officially in 2015. We also brought the American sculptor,
0:43 Chakaia Booker, who’s been commissioned to create a major sculptural piece specifically
0:49 for the embassy.
0:50 BOOKER: I work with found materials but one of the primary materials I work with are automobile
0:57 tires, truck tires, bicycle tires that I deconstruct and transform these materials into works of
1:05 art. (music, honking)
1:16 SOPPELSA: There’s nothing like person to person contact, direct person to person contact,
1:28 in which you are either in the studio or in a space that the artist knows and the artist
1:34 is relaxed and comfortable and really opens up about talking about the work.
1:40 OKEFOLAHAN: (speaking French)
1:43 SOPPELSA: He says that when he went to Paris the first time, it was cold, it was wintertime,
1:52 and everybody was dressed in black from head to foot and he said, where’s the color,
1:56 where’s the life here. He says he’s always chosen to show his work in Paris during the
2:02 cold months because that way people will sense heat through his work.
2:07 OKEFOLAHAN: (speaking French)
2:09 SOPPELSA: (speaking French)
2:12 CAMERAMAN: What, what’d he say?
2:16 SOPPELSA: He said, without color there is no life, he says it’s for this that he appreciates
2:24 Chakaia because she’s so full of color.
2:29 BOOKER: The inspiration, yes, of being here has been fantastic. Haven’t quite figured
2:33 out how it will all mix in together but I think that there has been enough of the exchanges
2:41 to make a great start.
2:43 SOPPELSA: Art the world over and artists the world over understand each other in ways the
2:52 rest of us don’t quite can’t quite imagine, but we appreciate it. And in this way, in
3:02 placing American art and in this case Beninese art, together on the walls of the new American
3:09 embassy what we hope is that we will create a diplomatic conversation through art.