I HAVE FORGOTTEN THE NIGHT by Joël Andrianomearisoa
Madagascar Pavilion, LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA
Arsenale della Biennale di Venezia – Campo de la Tana, 2169 30122 Venezia
May 11 – November 24, 2019
An historic event for Madagascar. Madagascar will take part in the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia with its own pavilion for the first time in its history. Although several Western countries have attended it for more than a century, only during the last ten years have some African pavilions begun to appear, for instance, South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire. Joël Andrianomearisoa was chosen to represent his country alongside curators Rina Ralay Ranaivo and Emmanuel Daydé, due to the invention and maturity of his work, his international reputation as well as the unconditional support of his professional network. This first participation in La Biennale di Venezia is a historic event for Madagascar. It is a sign of dynamism and modernity for the Malagasy nation. It reflects a positive image of the country at national and international levels, despite the all too frequent predominance of either exotic or miserable images associated with it. It is a message of hope and willingness to put the creative forces of Madagascar in the mainstream of the world. The Madagascar Pavilion, a project of Madagascar’s Ministry of Culture, will be fully financed by national and international private funds.
I have forgotten the night “And we have more beautiful nights than your days” (Jean Racine). Giving material expression to a journey translated from the night and viewed through the prism of torn papers of love and death, Joël Andrianomearisoa deploys the intangible essence of the invisible, turning around a world of otherness as an iron sun fades into the azure of night; as dark light no longer ushers in the day. In love “with the different grounds of three contrasting orchards: cold Europe, India with its pink and blue skies and Africa, a clear, deep spring” (Jean Joseph Rabearivelo), Andrianomearisoa endlessly unites their fundamental, component opposites to create elegant, abstract, melancholic forms woven from natural materials devoured by shadow and light. Child of the nights of “Iarivo the dead” (Antananarivo) and un año de amor on the streets of Madrid, a lone dreaming nomad straying from the bars and restaurants of Paris to the sleeping shores of the Bosphorus or the infinite horizons of Cotonou, the artist without frontiers brings a boundless nostalgia to the modernity of the square, breathing the sentimentality of material things.
Charged with creating the Venice Biennale’s first Madagascar pavilion, Joël Andrianomearisoa does not pay tribute to a country, but to the majesty of beyond black and its mournful wanderings – folding, unfolding, revealing outlines, singing and laughing as melancholy comes. “The geometry of the angle is a point of no return that embraces the present,” he assures us. Thinking of his distant land, the artist deconstructs the Palace of Ilafy, the first royal residence on the twelfth sacred hill of Imerina, separating the heavy planks of black rosewood to build them into twelve organic canopies that tumble in a dark cascade of bags, ropes and ashes. From the lost memory of that royal hut springs a tomb for half a million soldiers at Ecbatana, an allegorical Platonic cave, a labyrinth of passions, a theatre of affections… Gutted blades falling from the sky in waves of soot and rain throw up the wan, grey mists of the dying Creuse or the notched, gullied walls of Tritriva’s lovers’ lake. Turning the world above to the world below.
The artist Joël Andrianomearisoa, born in 1977 in Antananarivo, Madagascar lives and works between Paris and Antananarivo. He took his first steps as an artist in the mid-90s, when he was barely 18 years old. From the outset his work took form through performances that would earn him the cover of Revue Noire Madagascar in 1998. He explores many disciplines, from fashion to design, video to photography, scenography to architecture, installations to visual arts. This is likely where he draws his polyphonic work from, invading every part of his viewers’ sensitive space. As a part of this first pioneering wave of contemporary Malagasy artists he also actively participates in the cultural and artistic development of his country (Fashion festival Manja in 1998, the Sanga dance festival in 2003, Photoana festival in 2005, personal project 30 and Presque-Songes in 2007 and 2011, Parlez-moi in 2016 …).
He first trained at an art school in Madagascar first and then rubbed shoulders with craftsmen, which put him in touch with many renowned international designers. His training took a decisive turn at the age of 20 in France when he began studying at the École spéciale d’architecture, in Paris. In 2005, he graduated as an architect, presenting a fully graphic and textile project, far from the classic architectural approach that his research director Odile Decq had recommended. Throughout his career, his work has been shown on five continents, including many prestigious international cultural institutions such as the Maxxi in Roma, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the Smithsonian in Washington, the Centre Pompidou in Paris among many others. In 2016, he received the Arco Madrid Audemars Piguet Prize. Joël Andrianomearisoa is represented by galleries Sabrina Amrani (Madrid), Primo Marella (Milan) and RX (Paris)
Joël Andrianomearisoa, with his full, sinister and joyous affiirmations, was never tempted by the glory of the Nothing, but avidly by the sobriety of the All. That would mean nothing unless the images and spaces, the universe of Joël Andrianomearisoa were not there to give the non-speech, this new unknown, a form. The artist’s work develops around a non-explicit, often abstract, narration, which everyone perceives yet cannot put a name to. His world of forms weaves his work into sequences often mired in a deep sadness caused by an absence that is impossible to fill.
And for that he uses, in no particular hierarchical order, sound in its immaterial dimension or the book in its hyper materiality, silky textile or rough plastic, black or the most shimmering colours. His recent experience at Aubusson of a tapestry that would take six months of work to come to life, reflects this complexity, entangling a flat figuration sketch with the thickest knots of an unknown drama.
Joël Andrianomearisoa’s work has developed over time through different mediums and materials. In recent years, his creations have often been made from textiles, paper, sometimes wood, minerals, or from unexpected objects (mirrors, perfumes, stamps… etc.) with which he reinvents magic and causes the emotion.
This “aesthetic emotion”, often sought and rarely achieved, and which is beyond comment. At the Biennale di Venezia it is likely that the drama will hide in the folds of a black paper cascade, ultimately envelopping each of the visitors in the cloak of a light-filled spirit.
RINA RALAY RANAIVO
Rina Ralay-Ranaivo started his career at the Institut Français of Madagascar. For twelve years (2006 to 2018) ha was in charge of the artistic programming of this flagship institution of Malagasy cultural life. This transversal work enabled him to design produce and manage several projects in the field of visual arts and dance. It gave him the opportunity to work with countless Malagasy artists (Joël Andrianomearisoa, Madame Zo, Rijasolo, Ariry Andriamoratsiresy, Pierrot Men, Christiane Ramanantsoa, …), Pan-African artists (Kettly Noël, Omar Viktor Diop, Ballaké Sissoko…), Oceanic artists (Pascal Montrouge, Hans Nayna, Davy Sicard…) and artists from Europe (Claude Brumachon, Moise Touré, Bernardo Montet, Pascal Maitre, The Shopping…). Rina Ralay-Ranaivo is also a visual artist and his work has been shown in art centers and contemporary art events in Africa and Europe. He has curated several exhibitions, all in his country, the most important of which is entitled “Ici la limite du royaume est la mer” (2018): a collective and retrospective exhibition of the last twenty years of the history of Malagasy contemporary artistic expressions. Previously, Rina Ralay-Ranaivo had been a cultural journalist for the Malagasy newspaper La Gazette de la Grande Ile (2003 to 2005), after studying Information Science and Communication at the University of Antananarivo. Curator Rina Ralay Ranaivo, born in 1984 in Antananarivo, Madagascar lives and works between Antananarivo and Berlin, This proposal by the Ministry of Culture and Joël Andrianomearisoa to curate the Malagasy Pavilion at the 58th edition of La Biennale di Venezia is an essential mission for several obvious reasons. It is a tremendous honour that comes at the right moment, on the eve of a new orientation in my career. It is also a commitment that I accepted out of friendship, for the artist and for the association Revue Noire, with whom I have maintained both a complicity and a working relationship for about fifteen years. This invitation to write together, in a dialogue and collectively, a page in the history of Malagasy arts is an act that brings us even closer together. This curation is an unprecedented exercise: interacting intimately with the artist on his way of making poetry, drama, emotion and give them shape. Finally, it is a personal source of pride to be able to participate in this project and to bring this work on aesthetics deeply Malagasy in its soul and in its approach to a prestigious event with worldwide outreach.
Art historian, drama critic, essayist and exhibition curator, Emmanuel Daydé has organised Nuit Blanche in Paris since its creation in 2002, and written for various publications – Art Absolument, Connaissance des Arts, Art Press and Air France Magazine – interviewing Heiner Müller, Philippe Boesmans, Miquel Barcelo, Krzysztof Warlikowski or Romeo Castellucci.
The man behind exhibitions such as Ousmane Sow on the Pont des Arts, “Haïti, anges et demons” at the Halle Saint-Pierre, “Paris-Casa” at the Couvent des Cordeliers, “L’art dans le monde” at the Culée du pont Alexandre III, “Regards persans: Iran, une révolution photographique” at the Espace Electra, “C’est la vie ! Vanités de Caravage à Damien Hirst” at the Maillol museum in Paris and curator of the Lebanon Pavilion with Zad Moultaka at the 2017 Venice Biennale, he has written a number of catalogues and monographs, particularly on Fabian Cerredo, Anselme Bois-Vives, Moustapha Dimé, Youri Norstein and Aurel Cojean, as well as the preface for the exhibition “Die Ungeborenen” (The Unborn) by Anselm Kiefer at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac – Paris Pantin. Having curated the 2018 exhibition Iarivo traduit de la nuit by Joël Andrianomearisoa at Galerie RX, Emmanuel Daydé is now co-curator of the Madagascar Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Why Madagascar? Because Joël Andrianomearisoa.Why Joël? Because I saw him as a young prodigy, growing like a black star that never shot. Having spent time with him as he was producing radiant designs with Jean Loup Pivin and abstract stage costumes, I appreciated the elegant, subtle metamorphoses of his loving tributes to the black square, the matter of dreams and the drift of feelings. Although he is an entirely international artist and citizen of every world, Joël Andrianomearisoa remains Madagascan in name, soul and conscience. No one could better represent the days and nights of the Great Island.