“colonial deframing” with multiple focal points

Paris. In the fall of 2011, the National Museum of Modern Art (Mnam) acquired more than 7,000 photographic prints from the Christian Buqueret collection representing the production of the Parisian scene between the 1920s and 1940s. Center Pompidou, for example, “Voici Paris” in 2012 or more recently “Photographie, arme de classe” (2018-2019). Curated by Damarice Amao, conservation attache at Mnam, “Colonial Decadrage” corresponds to these exhibitions drawn from this collection. The route is supplemented here by loans from Mnam or other works, such as three rebus pictures from Man Ray’s report on his visit to the Colonial Exposition held in Vincennes in 1931.

The production of images from the French colonial system in the interwar period is rich and colorful, and their decoding speaks well of the cultural and visual atmosphere of the period. Unfortunately, the exhibition is cramped in the limited spaces of the Cabinet de la Photography, given the variety of thoughts on the subject. Reflections on the commissions and distribution of this visual production or its role in the creation of exotic visions and phantasies, as in the emerging anti-colonial iconography at the same time. In fact, many things are said through several prints grapesphotomontages, texts, publications and documents of various origins and nature, and the abundance of these pieces, this abundance of subjects, is such that the visitor will have to plan some time to read the many clear and necessary explanatory labels in this type of exposition. .

The African photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Roger Parry, Laure Albin-Guillot, André Steiner, Pierre Boucher, Pierre Ichac or Pierre Verger certainly made a break with the prevailing interest in local traditions and rituals at the time. But this rupture, despite its size and diversity, has its limits. None of this photographic work in the field, whether private or commissioned, shows colonial exploitation and domination in this way. These images look very lukewarm presented next to the similarly provocative interwar photomontages of John Heartfield or Simone Caby-Dumas, or even the satirical paintings of Fabien Lloris – and even more so when they are associated with extracts. Texts by African and Caribbean writers or poets criticizing their living conditions or exotic views are displayed on the screen.

The blindness of the surrealists

If the criticisms of the Communist Party and the surrealists against the Vincennes colonial exhibition of 1931 were severe in their leaflets, texts or counter-exhibitions, they were not free from contradictions and even blindness at certain points, about the exhibition. For more detailed information on the subject, we refer to the thesis defended by Sophie Leclerc in her book The ransom of colonialism. Surrealists confronted the myth of colonial France (1919-1962), Published in 2010 by Presses du réel. For if the Surrealists grasped the cultural dimensions of colonial rule very early on when they grasped the plastic qualities of fabrics produced in Africa, Oceania, or the Americas, they had only a vague idea of ​​the exploitation and violence underlying these appropriations. Nor did they question the sexual violence that took place in colonial countries. “However, in colonial spaces like the United States, it was a long process of enslavement that created a complex fantasy of gender dominance, exoticism, and eroticism that fed into the real attraction/attraction for women. racialized bodies, collective work reminds us Sex, Race and Colonies (2018, The Discovery).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *