Alida Ymele (1994, Cameroon) is an artist who lives and works in Douala. Ymele graduated in 2019 with a professional Master in Fine Arts from Institute of Fine Arts Nkongsamba, University of Douala. Her artistic practice explores precariousness, the fragility of the human being and the socio-professional universe of the daily life of domestic women and their difficulties integrating into current societies. She expresses herself through her self-portraits, staging herself in photographs and images of women that she selects online. Ymele has participated among others in the group exhibitions including: Artuelles interferences, Galerie Annie Kadji, Douala, 2020; New Spirit 2, Paradise, Douala, 2019; and Woman Power, Bandjoun Station, Cameroon, 2018.
Alide Ymele’s series of paintings of domestic workers evoke universal concerns about the role of women in society and reproductive labour. The story of domestic women as written by Ymele is inspired by the daily life of many of them such as Anna, a black woman from the Vossenburg plantation in Suriname, who came to Arnhem in 1727 to work for the families De Vree and Brantsen. In Ymele’s scenes architecture sometimes absorbs the bodies, demonstrating how domestic work occupies the majority of their time. The portraits create tension between fragility and fierceness: physical strength is portrayed alongside how tiring and depressive the work can be, especially with poor labour conditions. Ymele’s works explore belonging and non-belonging in the domestic sphere and focuses on women we tend to forget, minimising the power and importance of their labour to keep them in the shadows.
Wash-Wash (Shadow Women series), 2020 Acrylic and posca on canvas, courtesy of the artist
Le Répit (Grey Women II series), 2019 Acrylic and posca on canvas, courtesy of the artist