Mohamed Sleiman Labat is a Saharawi Algerian visual artist and poet. He is the founder of MOTIF arts studio in Tindouf refugee camp, in the Hamda desert. Established in 2017, the studio is where the artist experiments with discarded materials found in the camp to make meaningful visual pieces as well as facilitates cross-generational learning through the arts, particularly focusing on the preservation of traditional storytelling and oral history. It is now a hub for artistic practice in the remote desert, whilst serving as a space for Saharawi youth to gain skills and explore their creative potential.
Labat has recently begun working on PhosFATE in collaboration with Pekka Niskanen, a project based on the damages done by phosphate (as a substance, industry and political force) to link the Baltic and Sahara regions. Labat uses photography and other media to document the oral and nomadic cultures of the peoples of the Western Sahara as well as the new narratives and developments of the generations born and raised in the camp since the discovery of phosphate in the 1970s and resulting land clashes with Morocco.
‘Strong like life’. Storytelling with Saharawi artist Mohamed Suleiman.
Contributor to the volume by Laura Bourdin for Art Moves Africa: Retracing Routes and Tracing New Routes: Mobility and Touring in North Africa