TPL: You have shared with us a series you call A KIND OF BLUE NILE from Ethiopia. How did you come up with that title? Tell us a bit about what appears to be a kind of religious festival.
BM & AL: We have spent four months in Bahir Dar at the source of the Blue Nile, one of the tributaries of the main Nile. At Khartoum, the White Nile coming from Lake Victoria and the Blue Nile coming from Lake Tana in Ethiopia merge to flow towards Sudan and Egypt. This title is a reference to the iconic jazz album from Miles Davis. In addition to the direct reference to water and the Blue Nile, for this album, Miles Davis gave little indication to his musicians, just a general idea, and asked them to improvise on it. We did - at our own level - the same, we had the Nile and water as a guiding thread, and if we had more information than Davis’ musicians, we still tried to improvise some variations around this theme.
We wanted to do a series about Ethiopians and their relationship with water at the source of the Blue Nile. How it affects their practical life but also the cultural and spiritual dimension of water. At the end of January, in the city of Gondar (the north-eastern part of the country), Christian Orthodox people celebrate Timkat, which represents the epiphany and the baptism of Christ. In Gondar, around 500,000 pilgrims from all over the region gather inside Fasiladas bath, named after one of the 17th Abyssinian kings. There, a basin is filled with water for the ceremony and after a night of prayer, the pilgrims, mostly men, enter the bath to get blessed by the holy water. You can definitely see in the picture a special connection between Ethiopians and water.