Of Indian extraction, Sameer Kermalli was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he still lives. His first camera – a Fujifilm 110 – followed him throughout his school years. Before leaving for university in Ankara, Turkey, his father gave him an Olympus. When he returned to Tanzania Kermalli collaborated on a local airline’s in-flight magazine. He invested in the Nikon DSLR that has never left him since. He has been a freelance photographer since 2009.
In this series Kermalli used a macro lens – the exact opposite of customary photo-safari techniques. “I was pouring myself a glass of rose juice when a tiny drop of the syrup trickled down the bottle and onto the counter. Just a single little drop is enough to feed about a hundred ants. The scout ant arrived first, had a taste and went home to tell the others about the treasure it had discovered. Within a few seconds there was a line of ants going to the drop and back. The line was black in one direction and red in the other – the colour of the syrup the ants were swallowing. Most houses in Dar es Salaam are ‘blessed’ with visits from little black ants, wherever there is water or food. They forage around, looking for crumbs they take back to their homes in the cracks in the concrete houses. During extremely hot weather, they appear to prefer water. I have seen them surround a glass of icy water covered in condensation to collect drops and take them home. I wonder what they do with it… At one point there is no longer enough room around the drop, so the ants climb on top of each other to get what they can, but not out of greed – they collect water for the ants who have not yet arrived. I love nature and I marvel at the lessons for life they provide. My ants and I live together. I am glad to leave them crumbs, sometimes by mistake, sometimes intentionally. In turn they clean up by picking up many things I didn’t even realise were there.”
Françoise Huguier, curator
Text from the catalogue-book "Photoquai", co-edited by Musée du Quai Branly- Actes-Sud