Saliou Traore

L’or blanc

I like the idea of having a presentation of my work in a self service laundry. The word laundry brings up all kinds of associations and contradictions for me. The self service laundries became popular in the beginning of the 20th century when number one public enemy Al Capone has bought a Sanitary Cleaning Shops in Chicago in 1928 and established them on a large scale in the USA in order to clean his black money.

Dirt and the wish to be clean are both essential elements of the laundry business.

A video related to this project:

With this work I explore some of the aspects that are for me linked to the word laundry and to the main material: cotton. Laundering your consciousness is one word that comes up for me when thinking about cloth donations. At the same time I think about the businessmen make big money with this white gold. Big money for and in Africa and big money here.


Many Europeans give their worn cloth to foundations that claim they do good with it. Giving cloth to the pure Africans and being unaware of the fact that the local cloth industry is getting destroyed. In Africa we pay high prices for these cloth. It?s a myth that they are given out for free.

At the same time I am thinking about the cotton farmers in my country who hardly earn anything. What is maybe more important is the fact that the production of cotton implicates that immense amount of chemicals and clean water are used for the production. This especially in my home country, Burkina Faso. Cotton is one of our few export products and essential for the economy.

I do this performance because I want to explore some of these aspects and I want to feel it myself- the hunger for textile – the eagerness to sell- the desire to make profit – to grap a piece of cotton and to pay as little as possible for it.

I got the cloth for free from people who did donate them to me. Now I am selling them to get money out of it. With every piece of cloth that I prepared for sale, with every piece that I ironed and attached my white gold etiquette my taste for money increased. I hope I will sell a lot, for as much as possible.