Malala Andrialavidrazana. Figures 1862, Le Monde - Principales Découvertes, 2015
Based on an extensive collection practice which offers the opportunity to look back at history to move forward, the “Figures” series reads like an exhumation of pictorial legacies. Covering a wide range of symbols and representation processes, expanding from numeric values to movements through time and space, and including influent and iconic personalities alongside the faces of ordinary men and women’s whose roles, conditions and destinies have been underestimated within the global context, this body of work attempts mostly to create common ground for dialogues, and increase awareness at different levels.
Typically displayed in large-scale photomontages, the works are made of archival materials from late eighteenth-century to our current times, transmitted from hand to hand, from a generation or a continent to another. Fascinating both for their historical heft and their absurdities, they inform about political deviation, intellectual manipulation, systems of privilege, and domination between genders, colours, classes or nations, and deeply ingrained assumptions that led to biased cultural norms, stereotypes, and prejudices, and economic, industrial or technological advancements that have caused more tragedies than justice.
Each composition begins with an outdated map from a bygone era, when the depictions of the world used to reflect inadequate or inaccurate knowledge, that forms the basis for new reinvented imaginaries and narratives. Land masses and borders are preserved on purpose: while evidencing territorial shifts, they reveal falsehoods as elements of conquest propaganda. “Figures” mix and mingle visual productions of the globalization extricated from banknotes, stamps, album covers, etchings with prevailing contemporary concerns, and with much respect for the diversity of identities and natural environments. By repurposing their initial meanings through a succession of deconstruction and reconstruction process, individually and as a unit, the resulting works express multi-layered tensions, filled with a sense of dynamics between transfers of knowledge and shifts of power. Reflecting radically different takes on living conditions, they encourage multiple readings to see the world new and again, with richly nuanced hope.
Common signs, specific symbols or emblematic icons from various myths, regions and religions, traditions, modern dreams, hybrid realities, migrant birds, endangered species, and much more, are thoroughly combined beyond land areas. Inspired by the nomadic instinct of humankind to meet the unknown bravely – and this is particularly true prior to nation-states divided by geographical boundaries –, the treatment and construction of maritime surfaces is related to the status of free zones. This approach allows focus on cross-cultural linkages, parallels and contradictions, unconventional perspectives, and even random circulations in space and in time. Yet, sensitivity remains crucial in such assemblages of cultural references, and accident can’t be an option.