Sabrina Amrani is pleased to present "Antananarivo love playfield dead tree of my new life," a specific project by Malagasy artist Joël Andrianomearisoa for 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in New York, where the found object, daily materials and archival documents merge into a sensorial journey through the Malagasy capital creating an atmosphere that seductively oscillates between the ephemeral and the permanent, between reality and illusion.
Andrianomearisoa makes us discover his hometown Antananarivo: a physical and emotional territory which stands at a crossroads, where the artist is the compass that guides us through his feelings. Madagascar is a stumbling block in the Indian Ocean whose profile reveals the geographical belonging to the African continent, while its culture is essentially Asian. The artist invites the viewer to share with him a vital journey through space and time, an emotional walk through the city and its implications. A personal drift at vivid places where the historical review fuses and confuses with customs and manners, a promenade through the stories and objects that leads us to a heterotopic space away from the clichés.
For Andrianomearisoa feelings have always been an ambiguous and extremely rich space from which to develop his artistic creation. Love is definitely an unstable space where understanding is fractured, a territory of changing terrain which, like a volcano after the eruption, is capable of transforming the gentle slope of reason in the intricate folds of passion. The artist is therefore a lover, is an adventurer that while discovers at every step a landscape already visited a thousand times, risks helplessly to slip into the darkness of deep chasms where hope does not reach. It is also an archaeologist used to collect small fragments that he accumulates in his befall, snippets of stories and lives that skillfully arranged illuminate a past time and the pulse of life. He is certainly a subtle tailor that, darning remnants, predicts the map of a place to be lived.
As in a theater play, "Antananarivo" love playfield dead tree of my new life" unfolds before the viewer in three acts.
The first of them begins with "Antananarivo", the title of a photographic collage that takes us into the eponimous city; a composition based on the repetition of the same postcard superimposed on itself showing a bright sky and dark mountain, a blurred horizon endlessly multiplied.
The second act takes place through the installation “Antananarivo Dead Tree Playfield Love of My New Life”, composed of 39 pieces that introduce the viewer into the complex view of the native and the traveler; the historian and the poet; the observer of the thousand and one realities. Andrianomearisoa skims the flower that hides his feelings to show the multiple layers that Madagascar and its capital Antananarivo enclose within them.
This installation is divided into four parts that, as the sun does throughout the seasons, sheds different impressions of the same place under changing light conditions.
Inspired by poems by the local authors Elie Charles Abraham & Jean Joseph Rabearivelo, the first section consisting of text and photographic elements is titled “History/Stories”, and builds a story in which an amalgam of historical facts and ironical fables are subjected to such overhead look as the summer light. Found objects in his city promenades are subtly intervened by the artist in “Games/Complex Horizons”; where he seems to tile up the autumn horizon with domino pieces and pages of an outdated history book. In the central part of the installation we find the artist’s characteristic monochrome textile works, titled “Love Playfield/Complex Horizons/Last Illusions”; a piece that hopelessly throws us into the warm bed of that lover who grievously tries to keep afloat the illusions in the long and cold winter nights. The last part of the installation shares elements with the previous, here a false mirror, a text piece and a photograph element speak of hope; “Desire/Dead Tree of My New Life” announces, as the first green shoots do with the desire for a new life, that spring begins.
The project closes with its third act, a piece titled “The Skinny Boy” that completes the vision Andrianomearisoa offers of his hometown. An organic interrogation made from the accumulation of denim strips that challenges the future. A mask, a fabric representing the skin that internationalizes customs and habits, a matter therefore about the migration of people and the symbolism of garments. Madagascar is a crossroads, it is a territory in continuous sedimentation and erosion, a place where everything and nothing is remains; only feelings are anchored truths to a particular time and place.
Joël Andrianomearisoa (1977) was recently awarded the Audemars Piguet ARCOmadrid Prize, and will be present in early May with a major solo show at the Dakar Biennial (Senegal), curated by Simon Njami, with a solo exhibition. During Art Brussels Joël participates in the exhibition Not really really at the Frédéric de Goldschmidt Collection in Brussels (Belgium). His work was recently acquired by the National Museum of African Art - Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. (U.S.).