The Photographic Journal

Dakar, A Cartography

Essay 532 • Jul 17th 2023

“Dakar, a Cartography” delves into the diverse tapestry of Dakar, in Senegal, through the ubiquitous Nescafé carts scattered throughout the city. By focusing exclusively on these roving shops in various neighborhoods, my aim is to create a visual cartography and, through the absence of human presence, highlight the carts as autonomous objects amidst the urban fabric.

Whether nestled amidst bustling markets, lined up near the busy roundabouts, tucked away in tranquil corners, or standing in front of the city’s landmarks, these carts are focal points that emanate the narratives of their respective areas. By photographing them in their specific contexts, I emphasize the relationship between the carts and their urban environment, and invite viewers to imagine the conversations, exchanges, and encounters that take place surrounding these seemingly mundane objects.

The diversity in their appearance, from the vivid fonts and hand painted drawings, to the weathered surfaces and unique details, mirrors the diversity of Dakar’s neighborhoods and the stories that unfold within them. In the absence of human presence, these coffee carts become silent witnesses. They stand as symbols of potential encounters and stories, awaiting the bustling life that will soon envelop them.


Sofia Verzbolovskis (Panamá, 1987) is a documentary photographer currently based in NYC. She graduated from the International Center of Photography’s Documentary Program in 2011 and is a member of Foto-Féminas, a Latin American photo collective. Her work has been featured in The New Yorker Photo, The Washington Post, and Musée Magazine. Her series, Street Palette, was exhibited in Time Space Existence 2021, a collateral event of the Venice Biennale of Architecture.
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