As part of the Africa 2020 project, this exhibition manages to combine art, poetry, and social progress with the struggles of the emancipation of women and colonized people.
The Un.e Air.e de famille collection was presented from June, 26 to November, 8 at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Paul Éluard. Located in France, in Saint-Denis, this municipal museum holds Paul Éluard’s collection which is made out of letters, photographs, drawings, and documents that trace the life of this French poet, one of the founders of the surrealist movement.
The exhibition attempts to create a link between the art pieces from the historical collections of the museum and the artworks made by women artists from the African continent, in order to reveal the common commitment. The surrealists were interested in non-western objects which created what is called “African Art”. However, these artists: Paul Éluard, Picasso, Sartre, and others, express their political engagement against France’s colonial politics with their artworks.
When visiting the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Paul Éluard on October, 25, the visit did not start with Un.e Air.e de famille exhibition which was one of my favorites. It started with the presentation of Paul Éluard. Information about his childhood, his young and adult life was presented in detail. Followed by the colonialism exhibition with artists such as Nadia Kaabi-Linke who’s a Tunisian photographer. Her photographic series Faces shows a group of thirty-two South African people, exotically dressed up and gathered in a way that one could not discern the individuality of each person. The image emphasized the factor of a group instead of individuals and the aura of savageness.
Last but not least Un.e Air.e de famille exhibition which was choosen by Françoise Vergès, a political scientist and feminist activist. She chose the Flowers series by the Franco-Gabonese artist Owanto, which features archival photographs made during excision-related ceremonies by affixing a flower made of cold porcelain.
Owanto explains that her intention was “to fix this flower there which catches the eye and makes the photograph viewable. Beauty is also a strategy; the flower, an act of resistance ”.
By creating a dialogue between historical and contemporary works, the exhibition explores the themes of relation to memory, migration, and (post)colonial political engagement creating a very rich exhibition.