Festival de l'Eau 2010

From the 26th of December 2010 to the 2nd of January 2011, the Festival de l’eau went to Burkina-Faso and stopped in 3 villages : Léri, Walo and Ouessa. Set-up by the cultural organisation ‘Les Arts improvisés’ and run by Camel Zékri and Dominique Chevaucher, the Festival de l’eau proposes to bring traditional musicians and contemporary/improvisation musicians together. Musicians Atau Tanaka and Zack Settel joined the tour.

The festival had traveled in the same villages ten years before. In the winter of 2010, there was an opportunity to come back, meet again the locals, play music with them again and project a documentary of the festival in 2000. As a researcher in the Newcastle University’s SiDE project (Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy), I came along to document the reunions, interview locals about technology and infrastructure and conduct a digital photo workshop with kids from Léri.

The digital photography workshop was done with 12 children aged between 11 and 13, during half a day in Léri.

We started the workshop by meeting them in a classroom of the village school (the 12 kids were picked by their school teacher). We introduced ourselves and they told us their name and age. Then we showed them how to use the cameras, and they practiced for a bit.

We divided them into 3 groups of 4 (2 girls and 2 boys) and sent them on a photographic journey. Atau, Zack and I each followed one group. The 4 kids took their turn with one digital camera, snapping photos of their village and their surroundings. Quickly we were all followed by the rest of the village kids.

In the group I followed, Odette decided to take pictures of her household and courtyard, Asséta took pictures of the cotton exchange market, Souleymane reported on a family courtyard and Drissa took pictures of people in the back alleys of the village.

Then, we all went back to the classroom and downloaded the pictures on a computer so we could watch and comment on them.

I then sent my group on a second reportage, this time without me. Clearly, from the pictures they brought back, I noticed that on the second reportage, they were already more focused on the subjects and attentive at details : they reported on funeral that were happening that morning, by the village mosq. I think that looking at the first batch of pictures they took earlier in the morning may have had an impact on that.

In the evening, as the festival was about to take place, we projected all the photos taken by the 3 groups to a wider audience.

We presented the observations from this workshop and others encounters in a paper published at ISEA 2011.

Project blog
Download ISEA 2011 publication (PDF)

Info & Credits


Joëlle Bitton & Atau Tanaka

In collaboration with:

Festival de l’Eau, Les Arts Improvisés and Zack Settel


Villagers from Léri, Walo and Ouessa, Burkina-Faso

Research Lab:

Creative Group, SiDE, Culture Lab, Newcastle University