Nene Thiam joined Kasobane as the fifth member in 1979, one year after they began. She brought to the group an important element, the feminine aesthetic. Nene graduated from INA two years earlier as a painter; after being employed at INA as a teacher and researcher of Malien traditional arts, including Bogolan.
"The first years of work together consisted of field research, or going out to the traditional villages to learn from the Bogolan dyers the entire process: dyeing and learning to read the symbols (the alphabet). We went to different households around Segou and Mopti where each village has its own expression."
What is Kasobane?
"Kasobane is an Association, the name KASOBANE is derived from the first letters of each of our names. It also means ‘liberty’ because we were formally in chains, we are free to put what we want on the cloth and not obliged to repeat what the old traditional dyers say to repeat. When remaining stuck in traditions, there will be no evolution, no modernisation. I do not feel that I have ruptured with the tradition, I use the dyes in a traditional way, but I go further by using them as a medium to paint."
Have you inspired other young artists?
"Yes, we brought traditional Bogolan to the level of painting. We struggled and fought to have an “Atelier bogolan” (=studio bogolan) inside of INA, and today bogolan is taught once a week in all INA classes. Some artists have painted bogolan on wood, others on goat skin, both succeeded. A group called “Tshamana” was created that works in a similar fashion to Kasobane."