Joël Andrianomearisoa

Joël Andrianomearisoa

Last year in Antananarivo, 2016

Inkjet print on Hahnemühle paper. 28 × 326 cm.
Edition 3/3
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Last Year in Antananarivo is a series of photographs of a ball held by the French colonials in 1900 in Antananarivo which Andrianomearisoa found in FTM archives in Madagascar. This discovery set the artist on a journey, exploring the relationship between memory, pain and identity. In the images the Malagasy are dressed by the French in elaborate costumes to reflect the colonialists’ idea of a ‘civilised’ people. Andrianomearisoa plays on the inherent duality – the colonized and the colonizer, the past versus the present, pain and pleasure, the subjectivity of identity and the notion of ‘civilisation’. This is the first time Andrianomearisoa reflects directly on his Madagascan heritage.

At the same time, the title Last Year in Antananarivo , is inspired by the French film Last Year in Marienbad by Alain Resnais, arises from the artist’s life and work in Paris. The aesthetic of the film, the timelessness and absence of any sense of temporality, inspires Andrianomearisoa. There is no real story, no definitive end and no answer to the questions posed. Instead the questions simply raise a further enquiry – leading to an ongoing dialogue about memory and meaning.

This echoes Andrianomearisoa’s approach – the images which inspired a project are poignant, haunting, invoking a sense of loss and moral outrage, yet the artist refuses to draw any conclusion or offer us any solution. Instead he distorts the images by cutting them into segments, inviting observers to reach their own conclusions and create their own stories. The idea of dialogue is fundamental – there are overlapping yet segmented memories, no moral certainty, no definitive truth – instead Andrianomearisoa explores the duality of meaning and insists on the primacy of emotion. Andrianomearisoa juxtaposes the ball of 1900 with an event in 1960 to question: Is love an impossible dream? It is possible for human beings to be truly united?

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