Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema

Palais De Tokyo

Bildtjanst-H. Nicolaisen, portrait de Sarah Maldoror, photographie n&b, s.d., courtesy Annouchka de Andrade et Henda Ducados
From November 26, 2021 until March 20, 2022
Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema is the first exhibition dedicated to the work of Sarah Maldoror (1929-2020). It offers a chance to discover her cinematographic work and how she has been involved with the theatre, poetry and politics. Her multifaceted production where documentary alternates with fiction is a part of a revolutionary and decolonial cinema that is firmly anti-racist and unapologetically irreverent.
Born in the Gers, in south-west France, to a French mother and a Guadeloupian father, Sarah Maldoror is considered a pioneer of African cinema, engaged in particular in the liberation movements of Portuguese colonies (Angola, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau) but also close to the poets of the Francophone Caribbean (Césaire, Damas, Glissant). She plays upon these labels and proximities even as her work defies all frontiers of geography and genre.
Conceived as a landscape of films that superimposes histories and geographies, the exhibition looks back over the cities where Sarah Maldoror has lived – Paris, Moscow, Conakry, Algiers, Fort-de-France and Saint-Denis. It sheds light upon the dialogues that Sarah Maldoror instigated with intellectual, artistic and political figures including Mário Pinto de Andrade, Aimé Césaire, Marguerite Duras, Jean Genet, Chris Marker and William Klein; it also seeks to create new conversation with contemporary artists (Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, Melvin Edwards, Ana Mercedes Hoyos, Kapwani Kiwanga, Maya Mihindou, Chloé Quenum, Maud Sulter and Anna Tje) and to praize the efforts of artists like Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc who have promoted awareness of Sarah Maldoror’s work in the field of contemporary art.
The exhibition also explores the difficulties that the filmmaker faced in gaining recognition for her work as well as in financing and circulating it. What emerges is a non-linear trajectory punctuated by "missing" projects that were never realized or that have since been lost. The exhibition brings together Sarah Maldoror’s work and her life trajectory as a filmmaker, a woman and a mother compelled by an urgent political imperative to take up the camera as much by an economic imperative to keep on working.
At once a form of poetic research and tool of struggle, the cinema of Sarah Maldoror should be understood through the prism of the currents of thought that marked the 20thcentury – and which find new echoes today – including Surrealism, Négritude, Pan-Africanism and Communism. One of the constants in her work is antiracism, omnipresent in her images – be it in her writing, her framing or her montage –which throw into sharp relief the absurdity of the discourses that underpin racism (Un Dessert pour Constance, 1979). This also led her to create numerous portraits, of black artists and poets (Léon Gontran Damas, Toto Bissainthe and Wifredo Lam) and of Black women in France (filmed in particular for the television programme Mosaïque in the 1980s).
Sarah Maldoror, À Bissau, Le Carnaval, production : L'Institut National du Cinéma de la République de Guinée-Bissau, Couleurs, sonore, 16 mm, 1980, 34'', courtesy Annouchka De Andrade et Henda Ducados
Sarah Maldoror, Fogo L'île de feu, production : Ministère de la coordination et des finances, Cap Vert, couleurs, sonore, 16 mm, 1979, 34 “, courtesy Annouchka de Andrade et Henda Ducados
Ana Mercedes Hoyos, Comercio Triangular, 2005, Painting on canvas, 326 x 326 cm, Courtesy Galerie Nueveochenta, Bogotá
Anna Tje, Des safous pour les Bayam-Sellam, 2021, Ceramic, enamel, sound, dimensions variable, Courtesy of the artist Photo credit: Laëtitia Ramanonjisoa
Chloé Quenum, Overseas, 2021, Steel, paint, Les Bains-Douches, Alençon Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Joseph Tang, Paris Photo credit: Romain Arnaud © Adagp, Paris, 2021
Kapwani Kiwanga, White : Gold Morogoro, 2016, Sisal fibres, steel, aluminium, 600 x 500 x 400 cm, Exhibition view "Ujamaa," at La Ferme du Buisson, Noisiel, 2016, Collection Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Jérôme Poggi, Photo credit: Emile Ouroumov © Adagp, Paris, 2021
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, Préface à Des fusils pour Banta, 2011, Slides, sound, slide projector, synchroniser, Flash memory card, variable dimensions, Exhibition view "Préface à Des fusils pour Banta", Gasworks, London, 2011, Courtesy of the artist Photo credit: Kristel Raesaar
Maya Mihindou, La chercheuse d’or, drawings, 2021 Courtesy of the artist
Melvin Edwards, Homage to the Poet Leon Gontran Damas, 1978-1981, Welded steel, dimensions variable, Courtesy of the artist and Alexander Gray Associates, New York, © Adagp, Paris, 2021
Wifredo Lam, Composition, 1963, Huile sur toile, 113x130 cm, Crédit photo : Augustin de Valence, Collection Sylvie Baltazart-Eon, Paris © Adagp, Paris, 2021