Because most of Kéré’s completed buildings are far from the well-trodden pathways of mass tourism, few people have seen them apart from their users, local residents, or architecture aficionados who’ve traveled great distances expressly to visit them. Happily, among the latter is Iwan Baan, the Dutch architectural photographer who is renowned for his uncanny ability to capture a building’s setting with extraordinary fidelity while at the same time making pictures that are fully descriptive of its materials, massing, and details. His incisive depictions of Kéré’s work are among the best we have, and the exceptional affinity the two artists share led to their collaboration on Momentum of Light, a poetic visual essay on the traditional architecture of Burkina Faso and, by extension, the influence it has exerted on the artistic development of its foremost contemporary master builder. Baan’s highly atmospheric pictures of the country’s hand-formed mud structures, some of which are painted or incised with powerful graphic patterns, convey an almost palpable impression of his presence on the scene, as do Kéré’s reminiscences of the effect such structures had on defining his own architecture:
The quality of light lies in the interplay of dark and bright. Having only one or the other means losing some of the intricate beauty their communion can provide, making space and the experience within as rich as can be. Never yield the power of light solely to a switch.