Curated by Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc et Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez.
Imagine walking on a sandbank, delicately and cautiously following the path it traces from the shore, leading you ever further towards the abyss. We have to imagine this place as an ever-changing trace, attached to the shore but at the same time submerged by the sea, the river, the ocean. A liminal space, which would no longer be land and not yet sea, river or ocean, and whose constant transformations would create new communication routes, temporary rallying points, but also dead ends, or the threat of future shipwrecks. It's a place that is constantly changing as a result of the underwater currents that flow through and shape it, uncovering forgotten histories, stories of resistance and struggle, battlefields and ancient treasures.
Through this association of opposing terms, these underwater reliefs produce a poetry of the cohabitation of opposites, heir to Hermes Trismegistus' Emerald Tablet: "It is true, without lie, certain, and very true: what is below is like what is above; and what is above is like what is below, to work miracles from a single thing.”
La Mémoire des haut-fonds presents the work of artists, current and former residents of the Cité internationale des arts, from territories as geographically remote as Réunion, French Guiana, New Caledonia or Trinidad and Tobago. Following this image of sandbanks and shoals, the exhibition imagines a subjective and non-exhaustive journey through the work of some twenty artists. The exhibition does not seek to thematise the work of these artists, or to group their practices into geographical areas or generations, but it does attempt to follow the currents, traces, intensities and refusals that, in a fragile and temporary way, construct a singular sense and poetry of place and history, which shifts and displaces. It also follows the transformations and mutations of colonial languages in contact with Indigenous languages, whether from Africa, the Americas or Asia. These languages are a precious oral heritage, building new uses and sometimes new cosmogonies. They create new narratives of life and speak of life and survival, the better to counteract the violence inscribed on bodies by the colonial project.
With the artists: Kenneth Alfred, Mario Benjamin, Minia Biabiany, Estelle Coppolani & Lisa Derocle Ho-Léong, Caroline Déodat, Léuli Eshrāghi, Thierry Fontaine, David Gumbs, Frantz Jacques dit GUYODO, D Harding, Keywa Henri, Karla Hiraldo Voleau, Alexander Lee, Nathalie Leroy Fiévée, Olivier Marboeuf, Kowspi Marek, Shivay La Multiple, Jonathan Potana, Roseman Robinot, Marie-Hélène Villierme, Charmaine Warren.