Keren Lasme went to Grand Bassam to portray ‘Les Bronziers’. This series pays tribute to the craftsmen who carry the legacy of the art of bronze casting in Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire. ‘Les Bronziers’ as we call them come from generations of metalworkers and are still using the lost wax casting method dating back to the 10th century.
They played such an important role in the social-economical development of Bassam in the 70’s and 80’s yet today the government is not investing in their practice. Their working environment is as not safe and not always conducive to productivity. Recurrent electricity shortage and rain can force them to stop working. In addition, lack of financial resources prevent them from buying machineries that will allow them to develop and improve their practice.
Despite all these factors, the craftsmen are still using their talent to create decorative and functional artworks which are exhibited in their art gallery. They also work in collaboration with businesses and artists who still consider bronze as an important element of Côte d’Ivoire material cultures. Amongst these people are young Ivorian creatives like myself who work with ‘Les Bronziers’ to bring our ideas to life and create new aesthetic language with this craft.