Omar Victor Diop
Artistic Campaign 2015/2016
The continent of Africa is the “new frontier” for Pernod Ricard, which has opened six affiliates there in the past five years. It was therefore quite natural for the Group to give Senegalese artist Omar Victor Diop “carte blanche”. Given free rein by Pernod Ricard for its 41st artistic campaign, Omar has chosen to represent employees from the Group’s African affiliates and to embody the relationship between them and their colleagues from the rest of the world. Each of the 17 African employees has shared their portrait with one of their colleagues around the world, in the shape of medallion portraits built in the outfits specially designed by the Senegalese stylist Selly Raby Kane.
For those who are, day after day, building Pernod Ricard’s future on the African continent, posing for a picture wearing an outfit depicting a colleague is the greatest tribute that can be paid to the Group’s culture of sharing and team spirit. For each of them, it is an unusual meeting, the unique experience of inspiring an artist and becoming models for a flamboyant setting. The 17 employee models wore Pernod Ricard’s values with pride, and in their respective roles demonstrate that success, both individual and collective, is largely related to the mindset that is shared by the 18,000 employees across the world.
Omar Victor Diop interview
Tell us a bit more about yourself...
I’m a photographer, I’m 35 and I specialise in portraits and self-portraits. I fell into photography without ever having been to art school at all. I worked in the private sector for several multinationals both in Senegal and in Africa as a whole. I started taking photographs in 2011, partly to fill my Sundays. I invited anyone who wanted to come to what was the maddest possible photo session in my studio. To my great surprise, my first real series, called “le futur d’Hugo” (Hugo’s future), was chosen at the Bamako Encounters photography fair. A top class launch! And it just took off from there. I left my last job in 2012 to become a full-time photographer.
What is your approach?
As a failed painter and a lazy writer, I try to do it all with a camera. In each of my pictures, I reveal a person through the choice of colours, graphics, styling, and an attitude that I suggest but never impose. Most of the time, I write these pictures before I take them. Through these people, I relate an environment, mainly Africa, or rather Africas, because there are as many Africas as there are Africans - there are about 1.1 billion. There is a real tradition of portraiture in Africa, through great masters like Malik Sidibé, Seydou Keïta and Mama Casset. I work in colour, paraphrasing the popular Congolese painter Chéri Samba who said that colour is emotion.
How have you imagined your project with Pernod Ricard?
During my conversations with the Pernod Ricard team, I sensed a desire to celebrate employees and to underline this internal togetherness, this great mutual appreciation. To mark major occasions in Africa, it is traditional to print miniatures of the person to be celebrated on fabric. I thought that it would be really interesting to apply this tradition to the Pernod Ricard mindset. This project with Pernod Ricard allowed me to add chapters to the story of my African background.
How have you worked on this series?
In terms of styling, I worked with Selly Raby Kane, a Senegalese designer for whom I have enormous respect, who successfully expresses a strong African identity within an international and universal context. Together we created a moodboard to instil a spirit. She put forward sketches, which were completely in line with what I was thinking, and those were our starting point for the project and the choice of fabric, in particular Wax and Basin.
Did working with Pernod Ricard employees influence your artistic approach?
It was a new yet highly interesting exercise, as I saw the human side of employees. There is genuine cohesiveness and I have tried to use it as a common thread running through the portraits. I decided not to be too involved in the casting as I wanted Pernod Ricard to put forward the people who, for the Group, represent the diversity and vibrancy of the African teams, as well as that notion of collaboration between the miniature and the model. All this created quite subtle dynamics, which came into play when the set was arranged. The fact that an international group decided to focus on its younger employees in order to showcase them is actually a great thing, I would love to see things like that everywhere.