Timbuktu: Doors Of Perception


What is it about doors and windows that make them irresistible to a photographer? Is it because is they are universal to every culture? No matter how rich or poor, hot or cold, urban or rural, all societies share these entrances that define the transition from public to private space. They can either welcome us in, or warn us to stay out. Or, as I found in Timbuktu, they double as a means to put a personal stamp one’s home.

In Timbuktu’s historic center the buildings are earthen—mud brick reinforced with vegetation and wood. This uniform adobe tan colour dominates the old town center and world-reknowned mosques maintained since Timbuktu’s heyday as a religious and trading center in the 15 and 16th Centuries.

As I walked these ancient dusty streets, it was the wooden doors and windows which punctuate the earthen walls that caught my eye. They were often decorated and embellished with metal studs, hinges and plates hinting at the individuality of the families living behind them.