Art Exhibition: “Désir Cannibale”


“Désir Cannibale”—featuring nine young, contemporary artists from Guadeloupe with international exposure—opened on July 27 and will be on view until September 19, 2018, at the Fondation Clément in Martinique. Curated by Jean-Marc Hunt, this exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and performance by Minia Babiany, Ronald Cyrille, Tim Frager, Samuel Gelas, Cédrick Isham, Atadja Lewa, Kelly Sinnapah Mary, Jérémie Paul, and STEEK. Dominique Brebion (AICA Caraïbe du Sud) reviews the exhibition:

What’s behind this disconcerting, shocking title, Désir cannibale? A contemporary variation of Oswaldo de Andrade’s anthropophagic manifesto, which in 1928 affirmed Brazilian modernity by advocating an aesthetic and political process of constant transgression, the symbolic devouring of the colonizing culture to imagine in a singular interpretation, an innovative version at the antipodes sterile imitation.

In issue 4 of the journal Tropiques (January 1942) Suzanne Césaire, in “Misère d’une poésie,” also calls for creative cannibalism: Martinican poetry will be cannibalistic or will not be at all.

This is precisely the guideline for Jean-Marc Hunt, curator of this collective exhibition. He invited visual artists to think, and think of themselves in the world as predators, to swallow all the cultures of the world to be able then to better differentiate themselves through their practices. Cannibalism then, becomes artistic consciousness.

[. . .]  Kelly Sinnapah Mary’s installation, “Cahier d’un non retour au pays natal,” embroidered tapestries and painted canvases, continues the reflection begun in an earlier work exhibited in Miami. It is about the fate of Indian workers hired to supply slaves in the cane fields of the West Indies. Swathes of Hindu, Caribbean, and European cultures are mentioned. This forced exile breaks the taboo of Kala Pani, forbidding to cross the black waters of the ocean and to undertake great journeys at the risk of breaking the cycle of reincarnation, and being condemned to perpetual wandering. It results in psychological mutilation and metamorphosis necessary for adaptation to the new geographical and cultural context. But it is through the characters of European folk tales transcribed by Charles Perrault, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood—characters with whom Kelly identified as a little girl—that this painful experience is told. The judicious proximity established by the scenography between the mutilated maiden of Kelly’s canvas and the unique color photo of Atadja Lewa, featuring a dismembered half-sheep, provides an interesting wink. [. . .]

Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. See full review (in French) at

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