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Maggic Cube

These images are from photographer Adji Dieye’s series titled “Maggic Cube”, based on her research on the influence of advertising on visual culture in Senegal, and, specifically, the omnipresence of stock cube advertisements in Dakar. Her project responds to the words of the late revolutionary, Thomas Sankara: “It’s natural that the person who provides you with food will also dictate their will to you. Look at your plate, when you eat imported rice, corn or millet. That’s what imperialism is.”

To the list of imperialist products, Dieye adds imported stock cubes, a banal product that hides, however, a much darker truth. The most popular, Maggi, was among the first brands exported to Africa after the Berlin Conference in 1885. “The cube became a key element in African cuisines, spread all over the food as a magic potion,” Dieye says, “Not for nothing, stock cubes are called ‘magic’ in popular jargon.”

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This photoessay appears in Chronic Books Foods, a supplement to the Chronic (April 2017). An edition which aims to complicate the questions raised by food insecurity, to cook and serve them differently.

Food is largely presented as scarcity, lack, loss – Africa’s always desperate exceptionalism or exceptional desperation or whatever. In this issue, we put food back on the table: to restore the interdependence between the mouth that eats and the mouth that speaks, and to delve deeper into the subtle tactics of resistance and private practices that make food both a subversive art and a site of pleasure.

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