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Svenja Plaas | Research Trip

Senegal | Visual Arts

January 2023 — Visual Arts

Svenja Plaas

Artist website

Swiss illustrator Svenja Plaas will spend time in Tambacounda and Dakar, Senegal in January 2023 for a research trip to develop drawings and text for her book project, On cligne une fois et tout a changé. 

In her work, Svenja is fascinated by people and their narratives. “The process of drawing is a door, creating access to new worlds and life stories,” she explains. The project emerges from a residency in 2018 at the Waaw Center for Art and Design in Saint-Louis, Senegal. During this time, Svenja spent a lot of time in the streets with her sketchbook drawing the houses, street corners, trees, and people. She also collected fragments from conversations that were spoken around her, either by the people that she was drawing, or by people watching her draw. Svenja explains that: “The more time one spends drawing in a place, the more one is perceived as part of the environment. By working more slowly, a deeper relationship can develop between me as a viewer and the person or thing being viewed. But as an observer and drawer, I also expose myself to being constantly observed in my work. People can follow the creation of the picture on site and comment on it. An automatic exchange of information takes place and provides a basis for dialogue.”

These first drawings and texts were presented as an exhibition in Éthiopiques Gallery in Saint Louis, and as a printed zine back in Switzerland. During her current research trip, Svenja will continue and deepen the visual essay, adding new chapters of drawings and texts for Tambacounda and Dakar. 


Svenja Plaas, born in Switzerland, lives and works in Vienna as an illustrator, film editor and artist. She studied graphic design at the Zurich University of the Arts and film editing at the Vienna Film Academy. As an illustrator she works for various clients in Switzerland and abroad. Films she was involved in as an editor have been screened at numerous festivals (including Int. Film Festival Rotterdam, Zurich Film Festival). In 2022 she was nominated for the Edimotion Editing Award. She also initiates her own projects, which she presents at group and solo exhibitions. Telling stories with images, sometimes in combination with text, is central to her work. Since 2021 she teaches Illustration at the Art University Linz.