Comment Barthélémy Toguo transforme les drames en œuvres d’art

Alexandra Parodi (Numéro) explore le travail de l’artiste camerounais Barthélémy Toguo et son exposition au musée du Quai Branly :

« S’il place toujours sa sensibilité au service de l’actualité désastreuse du monde – conflits politiques, crise des migrants, pénurie d’eau –, Barthélémy Toguo prend soin d’éviter dans sa pratique plastique l’écueil du misérabilisme. Couleur, pétulance, vivacité… le travail de l’artiste camerounais, à l’affiche jusqu’au 12 décembre d’une exposition personnelle au musée du Quai Branly, conserve en dépit des drames dont il se fait l’écho, une inépuisable foi en la vie. Décryptage en 3 œuvres, emblématiques de cet engagement. [. . .] »

« Avant même que la question migratoire ne fasse la une de l’actualité, Barthélémy Toguo se confrontait dès 2008 à cette tragédie humaine. À l’époque, il crée une installation : une barque en bois débordant de baluchons multicolores, ployant sous sa lourde charge, au milieu d’une fragile mer de bouteilles en plastique, la précarité de la surface contraste avec la lourdeur de l’embarcation, chargée à ras-bord. Le risque d’un chavirement est suggéré, délicatement, par la simple représentation de ce bateau en déséquilibre. Si le sujet traité est d’une dureté radicale, l’artiste prend le parti d’en atténuer la violence. Avec leurs formes rondes, leurs motifs contrastés et leurs couleurs vives, les ballots en wax de l’installation Road to exile évoquent moins les photographies funestes des naufrages que les embarcadères fantastiques d’un dessin animé de Miyazaki. L’œuvre de Barthélémy Toguo n’en est pas moins engagée et puissante. Le spectateur est d’autant plus interpellé que le drame suggéré ici par l’artiste est invisible, invitant le public à le ressentir par lui-même à travers son propre imaginaire. »

Lire plus à: https://www.numero.com/fr/art/barthelemy-toguo-musee-quai-branly-exposition-paris

FilmAfrica (BAM, May 28-June 3)

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the New York African Film Festival present FilmAfrica, from May 28 to June 3, 2021. The cinematic companion to the 2021 virtual DanceAfrica celebration of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) showcases the best new narrative, documentary, and short films from across Africa and the diaspora, with a special focus on films from and about Haiti.

Caribbean films:

Meurtre à Pacot [Murder in Pacot]
Raoul Peck, 2014, 2 hr 10 min
Inspired by Pasolini’s classic Teorema, Raoul Peck’s intense family drama is set in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, asking fundamental questions about responsibility in the face of disaster.

In the Eye of the Spiral
Eve Blouin and Raynald Leconte, 2014, 55 min
Real Maravilloso
Raynald Leconte, 2018, 1 hr
Two documentaries touch on themes from art and spirituality to magical existence as lens into life in Haiti and Cuba.

Ayiti Mon Amour
Guetty Felin, 2016, 1 hr 28 min
Set five years after the devastating 2010 earthquake, Guetty Felin’s neorealist tale strikes a tone of healing and hope, avoiding the images of the disaster that saturated screens around the world.

Toussaint Louverture
Philippe Niang, 2012, 3 hrs
A historical action epic about the man behind the slave revolt that led to Haiti’s independence.

For more information, see https://www.bam.org/film/2021/filmafrica

[Photo above: Jimmy Jean-Louis as Toussaint Louverture.]

MonAfrique (Part # 2)

Our warmest congratulations to the students who helped organize MonAfrique 2021. It would be impossible to thank everyone, as we are told that over 20 people were involved in the planning the event and making it a success. We will mention just a few people here:

Allen Mico (who did great work this semester as a teaching assistant in FREN 322: Seminar in Francophone Studies);

the models featured in the MonAfrique photography exhibition, Goleba Lefatshe and Salama Doucouré;

and last but not least, Kwaku Bruks, the gifted photographer of the exhibition. See some examples of his work below.

Congratulations, Kwaku! For more information on his work, contact Kwaku.Asamoah-Bruks1@marist.edu.

Bigflo & Oli et Petit Biscuit– ” Demain “

Hi’ilei partage une chanson de Bigflo & Oli et Petit Biscuit. [Merci, Hi’ilei!] Elle nous explique : « La chanson parle des inquiétudes des gens et les paroles soulignent que les gens ont besoin de respirer. Tous leurs soucis concernant l’avenir ou leurs problèmes actuels seront résolus. Il dit qu’il est nécessaire de trouver du réconfort en dansant et en profitant de la nuit. »

Was Napoleon Bonaparte an enlightened leader or tyrant?

Repeating Islands

Bicentennial commemorations of Bonaparte’s death fuel debate about his legacy, France’s colonial past, and the leader’s ties to Haiti. “In the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, where commemoration events are planned, some see the French government’s bicentennial recognition as an affront— another example of a nation that prides itself as operating on a colorblind, egalitarian creed but acts with blinders on when it comes to slavery’s legacy.”Read full article by Jacqueline Charles, with photos by Sergio Ramazzotti, at National Geographic.

The year was 1802. France’s wealthiest colony, Saint-Domingue, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola—today shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic—was in turmoil. As former slaves battled their French overlords, an alliance of Black and mixed-raced generals fought to restore order under the French flag.

Then came news from Guadeloupe, another French colony in the Caribbean. Freed Blacks who had rebelled against French troops trying to…

View original post 783 more words

Ben Mazué & Pomme–«J’attends»

Hi’ilei Amundson partage une chanson de Ben Mazué et Pomme. Hi’ilei explique : « Cette chanson incorpore un va-et-vient, un appel et une réponse entre les deux artistes. Le garçon s’excuse et la fille répond, le réconciliant. Ils soulignent qu’ils attendront que la colère de l’autre disparaisse et que leur amour revienne lorsque le moment sera venu. Le clip vidéo montre des SMS échangés entre le couple. »

Voici le clip (suivi par la version acoustique) !

La France est-elle raciste ?

Jillian Lavery shares a fascinating two-part debate in which many guest speakers from key organizations discuss the question: Is France racist?

[Part of these debates stemmed from several racist comments including slurs directed at former French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, including an attack by the right-wing magazine Minute, which put her photo on the cover with the slogan ‘clever as a monkey’ and used the subtitle ‘Taubira retrouve la banane’—Taubira finds her banana; banana also means ‘smile’. The Franco-Caribbean politician was also depicted as the face of “Banania”—a brand that traditionally used simplistic, insensitive representations of Africans.]

Part 1 (19:04 minutes)

Part 2 (25:31 minutes)

Is Caribbean History the Key to Understanding the Modern World?

Working our way backwards, from the 21st to the 19th century, we end the semester with a discussion of the beginnings of the Haitian Revolution in the context of Évelyne Trouillot’s Rosalie L’Infâme. History Today presents the viewpoints of various scholars. Marlene Daut’s section adds valuable information to our discussion, the often-overlooked participation of the indigenous populations (mentioned by your classmate Kaitlyn Wiehe in her presentation) in the Haitian Revolution. Here are excerpts; read the full article in History Today.

‘The Caribbean became a focal point of rivalries among Europeans, a location where imperial contests were fought’

Carla Gardina Pestana, Author of The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell’s Bid for Empire (Belknap Harvard, 2017).

The Caribbean ushered in the modern world. Most infamously, it was the site of full-blown racial slavery – a horrific institution founded on the commodification of people as objects of exploitation – which was perpetrated on a massive scale. The Caribbean population intermixed not just European, African and indigenous American, but also housed a great diversity from within Europe itself. All the groups that crossed the Atlantic from Europe came to the West Indies, setting up rival colonial outposts, but also living together in specific colonies and achieving levels of diversity only seen in the most polyglot of European cities.

The Caribbean became a focal point of rivalries among Europeans, a location where imperial contests were fought. The value placed on the region fostered these struggles for power. The Caribbean’s high value arose from two facts that also signalled its centrality to modernity. It was a gateway for the silver extracted from the Americas, which funded the Habsburgs’ worldwide empire and fuelled an emerging global economy toward modernity. And (along with Brazil) it was the locus for the creation of plantation economies based on racial slavery. These plantation economies were central to the creation of the factory model of economic exploitation which made the plantation colonies the most valuable holdings of European colonisers in the 18th century, including both French Saint-Domingue and British Jamaica. Sugar and silver had devastating environmental effects as well, another precursor of modern economies of exploitation. 

All these elements – racial slavery, diversity, imperial violence to achieve superiority, oppressive economic exploitation on a vast scale and the resulting astounding profits – heralded the advent of the modern, interconnected, global reality of inequality, mass consumption and disregard for the environment. Only by understanding the pivotal place of the Caribbean in this experience can we come to terms with the legacies that we still grapple with today. 

‘The Caribbean was the birthplace of modern anti-colonialism’

Marlene Daut, Professor of African Diaspora Studies at the University of Virginia

The Caribbean was the birthplace of modern anti-colonialism. Inhabited by humans since 5,000 BC, the island of Ayiti, renamed La España by the Spanish in the 15th century, was the initial site of conflict between Spanish colonisers and the existing occupants of the region. The 19th-century Haitian writer and politician Baron de Vastey located the blueprint for later Haitian independence in the resistance of ‘the first Haitians’.

After Columbus’ appearance on Ayiti in 1492, among the worst of the atrocities his men committed in the name of acquiring the gold residing in the island was the execution of Anacaona, Queen of Xaragua (one of Ayiti’s five main principalities). In 1504, along with 300 Xaraguans, Anacaona was coerced into attending a feast given by the Spanish governor, Nicolás de Ovando. She was arrested, accused of treason and then hanged. Her execution was followed by a war, during which the Spaniards massacred almost the entire population of Xaraguans. Anacaona’s husband, Caonabo, had died eight years earlier on the ship on which he was being deported to Spain. 

Orphaned by the war, Anacaona and Caonabo’s great nephew, Enrique, was forced into servitude at a convent where he learned to admire the Spanish doctor, Bartolomé de las Casas. But in 1519, mistreated in his benefactor’s absence, Enrique rebelled. After acquiring arms, he convinced hundreds of other Ayitians, as well as enslaved Africans, to join him in a 14-year revolt against the Spanish in the mountains of Bahoruco (now Dominican Republic). In 1533, a new Spanish governor was compelled to acknowledge Enrique’s autonomy in what became the first maroon treaty.

The Haitian revolutionaries took up the mantle of anti-colonialism when in their 1804 declaration of independence they discarded the name of Saint-Domingue, given to the west of the island by the French in 1697, and declared that Haiti, named in honour of the history shared by Ayitians and Africans, would be permanently slavery free. Their actions provided inspiration for many 20th-century anti-colonialists, such as Aimé Césaire, who declared: ‘Haiti is where négritude stood up for the first time and proclaimed that it believed in its own humanity.’

‘At the turn of the 20th century, the Caribbean came under the sway of the United States’

Ada Ferrer, Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American Studies at New York University

[. . .] The Caribbean was also home to the earliest challenges to slavery and colonialism. The Haitian Revolution was the second anti-colonial revolution in the world. But it was the first one founded on anti-slavery and anti-racism, as its Black leaders announced to the world that human rights were their rights, too. It also produced the world’s first modern slave emancipation, initially forced on colonial authorities by the actions of the enslaved. Later revolutions in Cuba – the 19th-century one against Spain and that of 1959 – shared some, if not all, of its principles. 

The Caribbean is key because it contains antecedents of the structures of exploitation that continue to shape our world, as recent projects tracing the profits of slavery into the present make clear. It is key, also, because it launched some of the most consequential attempts to undo those structures and their legacies. Finally, it demonstrates that those attempts can themselves produce new forms of domination. The intertwined histories of colonialism and slavery and of the struggles against them have never-ending, always evolving, afterlives.

For full article, see http://www.historytoday.com/archive/head-head/caribbean-history-key-understanding-modern-world

[Above: ‘Environs de Leogane et du Port Au Prince dans lsle de St. Domingue’ c.1764, Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library.]

Film: “Marie-Louise Christophe: A Haitian Queen in Great Britain”

Related to our discussion of Alejo Carpentier’s Le Royaume de ce monde [El reino de este mundo / The Kingdom of This World], here is a documentary on the first Queen of Haiti, Marie-Louise Christophe. Marie-Louise Christophe: A Haitian Queen in Great Britain (2021) is now available via YouTube. The film, a collaboration between Nicole Willson (researcher at the University of Central Lancashire) and the Haitian Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain—was released on January 1 to coincide with Haitian Independence Day. [Many thanks to Dr. Peter Hulme for bringing this item to our attention.] 

Description: Step back in time with Wilford Marous and Michelet Romulus of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain and Dr Nicole Willson, Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme Trust funded research project ‘Fanm Rebèl: Recovering the Histories of Haiti’s Women Revolutionaries’ to learn more about the exile experience of Marie-Louise Christophe, first Queen of Haiti, who immigrated to Britain in 1821 with her two daughters.

You may view the film here: