IN CONVERSATION WITH BODI SAMBA
Bodi Samba – a versatile and visionary artist hailing from Congo and based in Europe. Specialized in various creative roles such as director, photographer, and painter, he unfolds an immersive and unprecedented world. As a creative force, Bodi delves into unexplored realms, focusing on identity and the exploration of diverse artistic entities. His latest project, “Eclipse,” recently released, continues this visionary odyssey on a journey of self-discovery and also promises to redefine artistic boundaries.
In this conversation, Bodi unravels the inspiration behind “Eclipse,” discussing the duality of identity and the transformative power of art. He unveils insights into his creative process, the significance of the eclipse metaphor, and how his diverse background shapes his artistic perspective. Dive into an exploration of the profound themes that fuel his work.
Can you tell me more about your short film “Eclipse” and what inspired you to create it?
“Eclipse” is the sub-concept of my artistic concept “Identity,” which is a concept I’ve put in place as an artist to give myself much more freedom in my creative process. What inspired me to make “Eclipse” was my identity. I think that every identity has a balance made up of two unstable dimensions. The first dimension, for me, is processing. When you try to process your identity, it’s a way of getting closer to yourself by trying to live outside the rules you’ve been taught. By creating a new world in your own image, to me it’s like replacing the old conception of yourself with a new one as a free person. This new conception of yourself is shaped when you place it in your imagination and start living according to this new perspective on life.
The second dimension, to me, is peace. It’s when you find the balance between these two dimensions. You begin to live according to the new conception of yourself, your mind is aware and awake. Everything becomes clear because you’re no longer the same person, but a new person. This is where the third dimension transformation is created. When I see the word “transformation,” I see “form” and “trans,” two things that represent fulfillment for me.
This is how I see “Eclipse” as 3-dimensional, and that’s how “Eclipse” came into being. It’s an achievement for me, a new world where anything is possible. “Eclipse” is the presentation of my inner self and my outer self.
Why did you choose the eclipse to represent this perception?
The eclipse is one of the rarest moments to occur between the moon, the earth and the sun. What interests me about the eclipse is that it’s rare, and the fact that it’s rare makes it special. “Eclipse” is like an identity for me, it’s special because every identity represents something that others don’t have. To be special is to be different, and to be different is to have a different perception of identity than others.
“‘Eclipse’ is the best representation of identity, and no one will ever tell me otherwise.”
You mentioned that “Eclipse” is not just about your identity but a project that concerns everyone. Could you elaborate on how it relates to everyone?
“Eclipse” is not just a project about my own identity and personal development. But it’s also a project that develops subjects that concern many people. Because as an artist, and having had many discussions with other artists fighting for their own vision, it’s never easy to bring a vision to life and build your own world. Since artistic language is never perceived in the same way, this kind of situation pushes us to persevere and try to refine that artistic language to make it much more understandable. That’s why I say “Eclipse” underlines our determination to explore our identity in a world where people want to live in a reality created for them and not by them. A duality between two worlds. A tormented dream (in reference to identity development) and a fulfilled identity (in reference to identity balance). The more you create your own reality, the harder it is to accept, and the more you accept the reality created for you, the further away you get from it and the less you find yourself. So we’re locked in ignorance without knowing what we can bring to ourselves. This duality tests our identity and pushes us to persevere and open our eyes to how we want to get closer to ourselves to find balance and give direction to our vision.
Diving deeper into “Eclipse” as a duality between two worlds, could you elaborate on these two worlds and the balance you aimed to achieve in this project?
The two dimensions I characterize as processing and peace refer to my first two main projects (“Hacked Identity” and “Holy Spirit”).
My “Hacked Identity” project highlights the change from one being to another, the total evolution and transformation of a being until it is no longer recognizable.
And my “Holy Spirit” project underlines my artistic transition. It shows the continuity of my artistic exploration and opens the door to my next journey.
What do I mean by this?
Transition is an important moment in an artist’s development. We need this moment of peace to put each puzzle back in its place to better explore and find balance in our identity.
These two projects gave birth to “Eclipse.” What I consider the 3rd dimension in the first question (the new world). “Eclipse” is a duality between “Hacked Identity” and “Holy Spirit.” A tormented dream and a fulfilled identity.
The end of one loop and the beginning of a new one.
How does your poem “Abîme” tie into “Eclipse,” and why did you choose to use it for the voiceover in your project?
“Abîme” is a poem I wrote a year ago in a special moment of my life. But I had no idea that this poem would play such an important role today in my “Eclipse” project.
The meaning of abyss is to be in the depths of the abyss. For me, it was total darkness, because for the first time in my life, even though I’m someone with very strong convictions, this time I had doubts about my life, my vision, and everything else – I couldn’t see anything. Sitting on a hospital bed, I picked up my pen and wrote:
“Appreciate life, appreciate love, appreciate what’s around you, just appreciate life.
Life is not eternal, explore the depths of your soul, transform the bad into something positive.
Give it a name.
Give it an environment.
Find the balance between it and you.
Things don’t always go as planned and in the darkest moments, that’s when the balance between the life you love so much and the life you don’t is created.
The world tests you, life tests you.
Your hands between two worlds, your thoughts split in two, your life you see in two.
You’re afraid, but you know that the determination that represents your life is not afraid.
Is this urge to appreciate life fear? Or do you just realize how important life is?
An importance you’ve already realized, because this isn’t the first time you’ve appreciated the good things in life.
The path is dark, you don’t go down it anymore, but you remember the impact it had on you.
The impact awakens your conscience
You open your mind for the first time
A new world…
A representation of things not as everyone sees them
All alone in a world where you’re the only one awake. All alone in a world where no one sees what you see.
A path where every positive wave that emanates from you must illuminate every corner for the world to see for the first time.
A path that will give not just you but others access to discover the new world.”
Writing all this gave a new lease of life to my convictions, and I saw things in a new way. It was as if I were asleep and had been woken up. It was the birth of another perception of myself because I realized that in this poem there wasn’t just fear or doubt, but hope and the determination to get somewhere, like everything that represents “Eclipse.” And I also realized that I had written “Eclipse” before I actually did it.
Can you share more about your artistic “identity” concept and how it empowers your creative process?
I’ve never thought of myself as a photographer, art director or anything else, because everything I do artistically is based on my vision. I consider myself much more of a visionary. For me, these are tools that allow me to express myself. With a vision, you can do anything, my imagination has no limits. Imagination is the key to refocusing everything in a vision. I needed something that represented my artistic vision and my convictions. So I took it upon myself to create my artistic “identity” concept.
Why “identity”? Because an identity is like an infinite être that has no beginning and no end for me. I see an “artistic vision” in the same way – some things that don’t stop because I see myself in the same way too.
A concept that gives me the possibility of being in a world where I can be myself, a free world.
All this perspective gave birth to my artistic concept of “identity.” An artistic concept that represents the freedom to create. It’s about expressing one’s creative vision as freely as possible, without any preconceived criteria, in order to bring out one’s own identity to the fullest. The artist does not have to justify or explain their creation, for it is the fruit of their imagination.
The work speaks for itself.
Everything I’ve done as an artist to date is based on this concept, because it’s the core of my vision, it’s me.
I don’t separate my art from myself. What I do artistically is me – my art is me and I am my art.
“This concept is freedom, and it’s also a way of saying that everything I do is based on a free vision.”
As the multidisciplinary visionary you are, you pursue many artistic fields, such as creative director, photographer, and stylist. How do these and other roles influence your work in “Eclipse”?
As a multi-disciplinary artist, I have explored many of the areas in which I have worked as an artist. This gave me a good perspective on the work and helped me develop my artistic eye and broaden my imagination. And when you have a clear vision of what you want to do and the skills to get there, the challenge is there…
“Eclipse” was a challenge for me in terms of work because it’s a project I produced – I created the concept, I did the staging, the styling, the movement direction, etc. You can really see the influence this artistic field has had on me. I’m also the kind of person who always wants more; I like to push myself. In “Eclipse,” it was not only important to show the influence the art world had on the project, but also to show the freedom you can have as an artist.
For me, it was important to create something that allowed me to explore my imagination in a way I had never done before… This is just the beginning for me.
I see your work focuses on identity and the exploration of multiple artistic entities. How has your personal background, from Congo to Europe, shaped your artistic perspective?
I don’t think I’d be where I am today as an artist without Africa (the Congo), and I don’t think I’d be here without Europe either. I’m the fruit of these two cultures, because that’s where I developed my vision, where my convictions were born. Two worlds that have given me a balance that I find indispensable when I think about it.
These cultures have shaped my art and the way I see my identity in general.
My stay in the Congo was enriching from an artistic point of view because the people around me and with whom I came into contact were art-oriented. But there was one thing missing: I knew what I wanted but I couldn’t see it yet. And my trip to Europe allowed me to see what I wasn’t seeing, my artistic perception. These two trips created the balance I have today artistically. I can’t go into detail about all the entities I’ve inherited, because there are so many, you should know that there’s no beginning or end to this exploration.
Diving deeper into this background of yours, how has your upbringing in Kinshasa, Congo, shaped the start your artistic journey and the themes you explore in your work?
I grew up in a Christian family,
I hung out with people who were into the arts,
I saw things that a lot of people didn’t see,
certain situations in my life made me more of an adult than I expected to be,
I’ve been exposed to situations that I can no longer forget
and that are part of my life today,
I’ve experienced things that can’t be erased.
In these 6 sentences, without really going into detail about the influence that education has had on my artistic career, you can approach the reality to which I have been exposed and which has shaped my identity, my perception, my way of seeing the world.
What can we expect from you in the future, both in terms of your artistic projects and your continued exploration of identity as art?
I love this question! Because the future will be different. This perception will open up infinite possibilities. I want to change the art world, break codes, inspire even more freedom in my creative process – the future will be immersive – I get goosebumps just thinking about it!
As I speak, I’m no longer the Bodi who hopes, but the Bodi who knows it will be crazy! Because where we are right now, believe me, it’s different!
“I can only tell you to be ready, because this is just the beginning of a story that has no end.”