Connecting continents

It has been a busy time recently. Firstly, the SAND IN MY EYES travelling exhibition arrived in London, selected by the prestigeous Brunei Gallery. The venue of the School of Oriental and African Studies of London University hosts an exhibition programme specialising in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The exhibition's opening in January 2016 coincided with the 60th anniversary of Sudan's independence. What an opportunity to promote the encounter on an eye-level! The travelling exhibition is still on display until 19 March.

Meanwhile, the dynamic team of the creative agency Glutrot GmbH spent many months crafting a website to the spirit of SAND IN MY EYES. The challenge was to translate a project from a tangible experience of several years into an online version. Inspired by Sudan, the creative principles were: simplicity, a particular range of colours, multi-layered texture, transparency and light. It has just been launched. A space to share the experience with a wider audience and gather together likeminded people, it invites those from afar to join the journey. The Berlin-based Glutrot GmbH is among the non-Sudanese for whom the universal value of SAND IN MY EYES resonated and who contributed their work pro bono. Check out their statements here.

We welcome you to browse through recent news, statements by contributors to the project, press clippings, the newly published Gold Edition of the book, and much more, on the website, where you can also read more about the travelling exhibition: photography and oral literature taken from the book. Previously displayed in Munich, Berlin and Madrid, it can be seen in London presently.

We invite you to join our Facebook group. The newsletter updates about the project, future exhibition locations and dates, presentations and noteworthy events, with occasional snippets, like below, from the 'making of'.

Choosing a title

I was often asked why I chose the title Sand in My Eyes for the Sudanese Moments collected. Some felt it was 'poetic'. Enigmatic. And also a bit 'irritating'. Makes people almost instantly feel like rubbing their eyes. Had that sand been thrown into someone's eyes, to challenge them? At a certain point there was even an alternative suggested for its Arabic translation. Once, in Kordofan, where even groundnuts are roasted in sand, an elder upon being asked about the title, looked around and quipped: he who wouldn't understand, must have but dust in his head. And Sand in My Eyes it remained. It sparked discussion and above all I was content. I consider this controversy a central precondition of a title that I felt otherwise relates to the subject in every way.

Apart from the bittersweet experience inherent to the beauty of Sudan which it alludes to, sand is an ever present element in daily life. It is also a connecting element, one that travels. It made me wonder, if we could reach into all corners of the country, as grains of sand can, and backwards and onwards into distant times where they have been around long before us, and will be long after we are gone, who is it we would have met? An ever present element that people don't pay much attention to, or dust to get rid of, the sand reminded me of mindfulness. The project was meant as a work of mindfulness of the small things that shape our lives and identity. We are surrounded by talking things. Everything has its narrative: faces, items, textures, coulours, sounds.

During the work I often felt like collecting grains of sand, one by one, visual and spoken fragments that form a picture together. Its pieces form and disperse, like shifting sands, leaving it to the imagination to grasp, or perhaps sense, the myriad facets of a people. It was a tedious work, heaps of which were blown away by political and logistical circumstances, and had to be recollected more than once. As already Babikir Badri (1856-1954), a pioneer of women's education in Sudan, was told, regarding his endeavour to collect proverbs across Sudan's vast lands: He who is idle, will poke his mother.

In the Sudanese context, placing something at eye level, literally carrying it in your eyes, is also an expression of high respect and value, used in different variations. Besides, when grains of sand bite our eyes, cleaning them from the dust helps see more clearly. Sudanese ways of life and their wisdom certainly did that for me.

If you think these were many thoughts to go into the choice of a title, wait until I write about the selection of the five chapters!

We are hard at work developing next exhibition locations and there are good things and a few surprises coming up there!

A big thank you to all of you for the encouragement, genuine interest, diverse support and the many emails and touching personal comments received over the years from so many corners of the world.

My very best,
Enikö Nagy