Nicolas Derne’s paradoxical parades

Here are excerpts from Dominique Brebion’s essay “Nicolas Derne’s paradoxical parades.” Read full article and see more photos at Aica Caraïbe du Sud.

The Studio Lumina, a brand-new arts centre, has just opened to artists and the public, helping to remedy the undeniable lack of venues dedicated to art. Three hundred square metres with raw concrete walls, black picture rails and designer furniture. The project is coordinated and hosted by the brand-new association Zofi, named after the Creole word for the garfish. It expresses the essence of the project by using the metaphor of a shoal of fish: it is an artist’s collective, committed to sharing experiences. The artistic director is the photographer Nicolas Derné.

The Studio Lumina is much more than an exhibition space. It is an experimental space, a shared artist’s studio, including, it is true, an exhibition space, which is also open to digital art, residence workshops that will be hosting two artists this year, a shared workshop that can welcome several artists and a co-working space open to people with a range of technical skills that they can share with creative artists. A vast window at the entrance offers a wide view over the gallery even before visitors step inside the exhibition area.

The Studio Lumina is much more than an exhibition space. It is an experimental space, a shared artist’s studio, including, it is true, an exhibition space, which is also open to digital art, residence workshops that will be hosting two artists this year, a shared workshop that can welcome several artists and a co-working space open to people with a range of technical skills that they can share with creative artists. A vast window at the entrance offers a wide view over the gallery even before visitors step inside the exhibition area.

The Studio Lumina was launched as part of a public / private partnership. For the private sector, the company providing the space also supports the association’s activities. For the public sector, the Martinique Cultural Affairs Department (DAC) is funding investment in the lighting equipment, picture rails and other elements. The association would like to take private partnerships further. Partnerships would not be limited to financial support but could also take the form of pooling skills. Creating a bridge between the world of art and the world of business is one of the main aims.

The programme for the coming year is currently being developed. The artists in residence for this first session are Georges Emmanuel Arnaud and Ibiyanε. Tania Doumbe Fines and Elodie Dérond founded the design studio Ibiyanε in 2020. In the Batanga language in southern Cameroon Ibiyanε means « to know each other ». Arising from modern visions of Caribbean and sub-Saharan practices in ergonomics and comfort, their creations are designed and made by hand.  The option was taken for a non-limited residence in terms of time and results, all through the year, to foster interactive practices, deeper research and, concerning Ibiyanε, to produce their first collection, since until now the interdisciplinary duo have mainly worked on commissions.

The photo exhibition Parades by Nicolas Derné will be inaugurating the first season at the Studio Lumina. Nicolas Derné explains the reasons for his choice, even though Parades was already exhibited at the Tropiques Atrium in 2019.  It’s a pity that plays are only performed once in Martinique.   In the same way, only seeing an exhibition once is finally not enough. What’s more, the staging has been renewed here. And most of all, the exhibition of photos of the Caribbean Carnival aimed to give our project a fully Caribbean dimension directly. I saw that we knew very little about artists from the Caribbean. In this venue dedicated to the Caribbean area, Parades shows the Caribbean carnival with pictures of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad. But there are no exhibit labels deliberately, since the idea is to show the Caribbean area and its interconnected reality, not several different carnivals. To show the region we live in and ask ourselves what we know about it.

Dramatisation and ambiguity are features of this black-and-white series on the carnival, far removed from traditional, exotic and festive clichés. Through the carnival, as in the follow-up series, Archipelago, a world opened up to me, enabling me to talk about much more than the festive carnival. We could be seeing a rebellion. It is a dreamlike world, a moment in history, symbols we can recognise sometimes. I like thought-provoking scenes, which raise questions… where viewers lose their bearings and ask what is really happening before their eyes. [. . .]

As part of the 20th anniversary of « Regards sur Cours », the Institut Français in Dakar, Senegal is organising a collective exhibition from 29 April to 28 May 2023 in partnership with La Station Culturelle (Martinique). The exhibition compares and shifts our view of parades, whether they are carnivals in the Caribbean or the creation (and display) of contemporary mutant masks in the Kédougou region. Fire, transfiguration, trance, catharsis, living cultural heritage, spiritual links and wandering. Anaïs C. (Guadeloupe), Culture Ailleurs (France), Nicolas Derné (Martinique), Gorgorlou (Senegal) prepared the collective exhibition together as part of a multidisciplinary residence.

For full article, see https://aica-sc.net/2023/04/21/nicolas-dernes-paradoxical-parades/

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