A new version of the exhibition that premiered at Galerie Le Manège, Dakar in 2011, the project draws its title from La Parole aux Négresses (1978) by Awa Thiam, one of the first African feminist writings, and extends its reflection to a contemporary, transcontinental, and diaspora approach. This presentation consists in previously unseen pieces commissioned by Fondation Blachère, produced during a creative workshop held in January 2014 at Wemah Art Project (Bonendalè, Cameroon), and in residency in Apt. The show also includes works by artists who have developed a long-standing interest in the female and black body, both from an intimate and collective perspective.
The exhibition opens on the residency as a meeting point between the self and the other, on foreign land, in an unknown context. This environment was negotiated through perception and intuition by artists Wanja Kimani in her video poem Fleuve Wouri, and Mavis Tauzeni in her printed impressions merging self-portraits and landscapes. Open Door Policy, Ifeoma Anyaeji's partitioning piece made out of threaded plastic bags conveys the vague boundary existing between public and private space in the village of Bonendalè, inviting the passer-by's indiscretion. This curiosity is satisfied in Euridice Kala's residency bedroom, recreated at Fondation Blachère as a site-specific installation in which the walls become pages of an intimate written and video diary.
Cecilia Ferreira and Ope Lori's video-performances take us further in the realm of privacy through their exploration of women's body, commodification, aesthetic canons, and sexuality. As in Lori's work, the emphasis on the black body is reflected in Colored Only (2013), a photography project by Hélène Jayet celebrating kinky hair with portraits of sitters presenting their individuality and personal identity through afro hairstyles.
Leapfrog (a bit of the other) Grand Matron Army (2010) by Ayana V. Jackson traces several generations of African-American women, from the pre-colonial period to our time. The transatlantic tale continues with Testimony: Narrative of a Negress Burdened by Good Intentions (2004) by Kara E. Walker. In this video, gender and race power relations are inverted, leading to the former white master being lynched by the empowered black mistresses.
This emasculation is echoed in Justine Gaga's installation L'Ombre de Moi-Même (2011-2014) made of her signature genderless wooden figurines in railings, strangely resembling caged phalluses. Finally, Safaa Erruas' series entitled Corazones Desnudos, created in residency at Fondation Blachère, reduces the body to its prime vital organ. Erruas reveals the heart in a process combining photography and mixed media, including the use of needles, fiberglass, broken light bulbs and metal wires.
This exhibition is accompanied with a bilingual (French and English) catalogue published by Fondation Blachère.