While in residency at the Nafasi Art Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in spring of 2022, I went on a birdwatching tour into the sprawling extensions of a city not quite mega but trending that way. At one site we explored a dwindling wetland, hemmed in on all sides by the informal dwellings and crop-plantings of recent in-migrants to the city, and we looked through the reeds there for local birds like the African Jacana, pictured here. The Jacana has enormous feet which it uses to pace solemnly across mats of floating foliage, and its presence here in this complex social and natural context made me wonder how those feet would serve it in the coming years. Would it be able to pace its way into survival? What about all the people arriving in this city teetering out of the country’s long socialist experiment, and into the harsh reality of the totalized capitalist global economy? Where do any of us have to go? And what tools can we rely on when we get there?
I carved this block at Nafasi and printed it at home in Portland OR on my Vandercook 3 letterpress.