Ibou just received a large chunk of ebony wood from a friend in Cameroon. Ibou, tell me about your wood.
“Its ebony.” How tall is it? “It’s a foot and half.” What shape is it? “I think is a little bit square-rectangle.”
“I really don’t know what to make with that wood. Should I make a nommo, or a kind of thinker, or a masked dancer? Yea, why not? Why can’t I make it a masked dancer… a goofy masked dancer like a hyena? I used to wear a hyena mask. Hooo. Yea, I can make it goofy, because that mask has a big forehead, a bump forehead, and the face is like that…” (mimics chin jutting out.)
“Should I make it a hyena mask? I am still not convinced. When you start chopping that wood, you just have to keep going. I need to get some vague idea. You know, sometimes, when the wood is just all square like this, I think you have to get an idea of what you want to make. When you get a branch or piece of wood with its own shape, it gives you ideas. That is different for me.”
How do you usually get your ideas? “I don’t know.” How many sculptures have you made? “One, two, three, four, five, six,… hahhaahhaha” Alot, you have made alot… ” Yeah, a lot.” How did you get the ideas to make those? “Hmmm, haahhahahha. All of my sculptures are just like daily life, that’s all. You know what? If I think of something, it is what I didn’t make. I saw some of my sculptures here and I remember, I made something like that. Or some people say…you should make something like that, and I remember yeah, I made something like that. I was just making something out of nothing, out of something, that is how all of my ideas go.”
Do you ever start a sculpture with an idea and find out you don’t like it? “Yeah, it happens. But, still, some other people may like it.. .hahahha.” So you just keep going with it? “I know that I have left a couple of unfinished sculptures that I have known. I don’t like the shape of the wood going there, it will take too much work to fix it so I leave it and start on another wood. Just two that I have known. The one is still home in Bandiagara by the door. It is a Fulani holding his stick like that. The other one, Bah took it and finished it and sold it the next day with some tourists who really liked it. But now I am going to eat my well deserved tiga-diga rice and drink my premier tea, and look at my wood and think… are you going to be a hyena mask or something else?”