Andresen—who is typically based in New Orleans—didn’t have much prior travel experience in Africa, barring some explorations in Morocco. He has been both surprised and enlivened by his time there thus far. “My biggest surprise was the landscape of Dakar,” Andresen admitted, noting that he hadn’t expect the arid environment, where strong winds from the Atlantic leave everything covered in a layer of dust—“yet from this landscape, a bustling, vibrant city thrives,” he added. The artist’s life at Black Rock is full and eclectic: In addition to working in a nearby weaving workshop, he swims, takes language lessons, shops for supplies in the market, and hits up the occasional late-night ElectriAfrique
Andresen describes Black Rock as “a small oasis,” with a sense of calm and serenity, “yet once you open the gate, you are dropped directly into a bustling neighborhood.” The urban environment doesn’t mean that artists will find the same amenities and staples they might back home in New York, London, or Los Angeles—but perhaps that may lead to creative workarounds and unexpected eureka moments. “One of the greatest challenges is simply finding materials,” Andresen said. “The vast majority of businesses in Dakar are informal, small stalls and vendors selling their goods. You can’t search for anything online, so to find particular items, you have to know someone, or ask, and then track it down.” That process can take anywhere from an hour to a day or two.