Ângela Ferreira and Jürgen Bock will discuss the Portuguese representation at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. Ferreira developed her installation Maison Tropicale for this occasion, curated by Bock, while Manthia Diawara was invited to write on Ferreira’s work, and to direct a film on the Portuguese project. All three met in Paris to trace and discuss the history of Jean Prouvé’s Tropical Houses, and they then travelled together to Niamey, Niger, and Brazzaville, Congo, to search for what was left from the French colonial project. At the time, the houses had recently been ‘re-discovered’ by the art market, resulting in their dismantling, and being shipped to Paris and the US. With Maison Tropicale, the Portuguese pavilion turned into a platform for complex international interaction, where different forms of narration, inherent to the different mediums used by the authors, each with their own conventions and methodology, inspired a symbiotic collaboration between the artist, film director, writer, and curator.
Maison Tropicale (2008, Mali, 58’)
Director: Manthia Diawara; Production: Jürgen Bock, Maumaus; Editing: Pedro Rodrigues; Cinematography: Bruno Ramos; Sound: António Fialho, Goumour Mohamed, Adelaide Mboueya, Ed Paredes; With: Ângela Ferreira, Mireille Ngatsé, João Fernandes, Salah Hassan; Portuguese subtitles
Mireille Ngatsé lived for years in the famous Maison Tropicale designed by the French architect, Jean Prouvé. There was no water or electricity. But she felt secure in the house. She loved the light and the fresh air coming in through the sun breakers. In 2000, some French gallerists came to Brazzaville to buy the Maison Tropicale. They dismantled it and put it in containers to take it back to France. A few years later, Mireille Ngatsé sees the picture of the Maison Tropicale in an art catalogue, as it was being exposed along the Seine River. The documentary by Manthia Diawara takes its point of departure from an artistic project by Ângela Ferreira on Jean Prouvé’s Maison Tropicale, as shown at the Venice Biennale. Based on the memories of former tenants of Maisons Tropicales in Niamey (Niger) and Brazzaville (Congo), the film raises the question of the definition of art, identity politics and patrimonial culture in the post-colonial context.