'' I see the lagoon like as huge toy store, or as if nature were playing hide-and-seek with me, hiding a bunch of “ANIMOUKS” that I’m asked to discover.'' (TOMEI)

Before the artistic process, there is Weegun Musetagonze’s walk, an Ojibwe name given to BRUNO TOMEI by a wise man of this nation, meaning "the man who gives the feathers and who is inhabited by the spirit of the crow." His first work takes the form of a contemplative exercise for gathering driftwood, a research guided by the many faces of animal medicine. An “ANIMOUK" is more than just driftwood that seems to bear a resemblance to an animal shape. It is a totem that was first incubated into a living tree. Following the cycle of things, the tree falls in the river which, in turn, will drop into the large body of salt water. From there, the sea water will find its way to the heart of the trunk and then reject it, so that it can be found broken, even dismembered, on the banks of the lagoon. Through the sand or pebbles, the artist acts as an archaeologist and digs the tree parts, lifts them, looks at them, leaves them behind more often than he takes them, in search of those winks of nature, so precious to him. If the harvest is good, it will produce an ANIMOUK today or maybe next year.  Selection is an important of the process because TOMEI is on the look out for what makes totems sacred, meaning animistic art acting positively on people who come around them.

From April to October, the artist rises early in the morning and looks for materials several hours at a time, such as stone or wood bases, sea glass, agates, and if the natural laws allow for it, an ANIMOUK arise in its raw form. Weegun’s challenge will be to reveal the ANIMOUK with touches of acrylic paint, just the right mix to disclose the eye holes, the muzzle and the mouth. A wooden piece is then fixed at the back of the totem, and is sometimes enhanced with metallised foil or other means.According to the artist, the ANIMOUK should be left to its simplest expression, which is closest to its natural state, just as the tree has received it in its womb, from the original seed. Weegun waits patiently for all the ANIMOUKS to emerge on the shore, taking only what he can get, because this is the law if one truly wishes to pursue that kind of creative endeavour.

Bruno W Tomei