Market Imaginary

Market Imaginary (2012)

Written, directed, and produced by Joanna Grabski

Dialogue in Wolof, French, and English

Subtitles in English

Running Time 53 minutes

Available from Indiana University Press

Market Imaginary explores Colobane Market in relation to its neighborhood, the city of Dakar, Senegal and the imagination. The market is aptly characterized by the Wolof dictum, "Lepp looy wut rekk am na marsé Colobane (You can find anything in the world at Colobane Market).” The objects populating market stalls ‐‐ colorful plastics, tattered journals, used clothing and shoes as well as watches, radios and cell phones ‐‐ oblige the eye and the imagination to travel. Viewed collectively, the range of objects and their points of origin represent the market as a coalescence of many networks and histories. As much as the market represents the convergence of objects, people, and possibilities, it is also the point from which these ensembles diverge and take new directions. Conceptual elements associated with mobility, urbanization, and connectedness (transits, passages, conduits) and the possibilities they promise are deeply embedded in the market imaginary. Like the market, the neighborhood is associated with mobility and convergence due to its geographical positioning in Dakar and proximity to the railroad line, bus depot, and highway.

This film considers the commercial/social, historical/spatial, and visual/creative imaginaries around Colobane Market in Dakar, Senegal. The film is composed of an introduction and three chapters. The first chapter considers the speculations involved in market business for both buyers and sellers. The second chapter focuses on the history and development of the market and neighborhood following the displacement of populations during the French colonial era. The third chapter explores the processes of creativity and reinvention by examining how artists use the material resources and visual possibilities offered by the market and city more broadly. The film thus offers a document and theorization about the market and neighborhood as notional spaces. It advances interconnected narratives about the movement of people and objects, alternative global and creative economies, and the prospects for transforming second hand goods.

Market Imaginary is based on longterm research about Colobane Market, the surrounding

neighborhood, and the city of Dakar. It features interviews with

  1. Viyé Diba

  2. Abdoulaye Ndoye

  3. Ndary Lo

  4. Cheikh Ndiaye

  5. Fally Sene Sow

  6. 2Pac Colobane

  7. Docta

  8. Vieux Cissé

  9. Aminata Diop

  10. El Hadji Ousmane Mbenga

  11. Ndeye Fatou Gueye

  12. Ousmane Sene

The film was written, directed, and produced by Joanna Grabski in collaboration with Christian Faur, Jacques Daniel Ly, Fanta Diamanka, El Hadji Sarr, and Aissata Barry. The film’s limited edition premiere was sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Section of the American Embassy, Dakar as a Dak’Art Biennale Off site in June 2012 at the Maison de la Culture Douta Seck.

The film's trailer is available at the following link:


Film Trailer