Now Exhibitions

Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema

US Premiere

A vertical sculpture with eyes rests in foreground. A colorful mural is on the left. A small tv and large painting are on the right.

See the first large-scale museum exhibition dedicated to filmmaker Sarah Maldoror, a pioneer of African cinema and fighter for Black women’s empowerment.

Tricontinental Cinema explores Maldoror’s five-decade career as a filmmaker, tracing her involvement with Black liberation movements in France, Africa, and the Caribbean. Through an immersive, multisensory landscape of films, photographs, poetry, and letters, the exhibition invites you to experience the full scope of Maldoror’s practice.
 
Recognized as "the mother of African cinema," Maldoror completed more than 45 shorts, documentaries, and feature films for both the screen and television before her death in 2020. Many of these works, including her searing anti-colonial drama Sambizanga (1972)—one of the first features made in Africa by a Black woman filmmaker—rewrite the rules of films focusing on resistance and rebellion, often casting women as protagonists in movements dominated by men. Other films chart Maldoror’s creative connections with key artists and intellectuals in the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, including Surrealist artist Wifredo Lam and Négritude poet Aimé Césaire, as well as jazz musicians like the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
 
Tricontinental Cinema extends this circle of conversations and collaborations to the present. The exhibition includes several large-scale works by contemporary artists, including a monumental fiber sculpture by renowned French and Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga and an installation by American sculptor Melvin Edwards. It also features a newly commissioned mural, painted on-site, from Paris-based artist Maya Mihindou. Framing Maldoror’s films and archives, these works form a constellation of Black and Afro-Surrealist practices while amplifying the continued resonance of her work today.

Join us for the free opening celebration on Friday, February 2, featuring a talk, open galleries, a reception, and a dance party. Explore more programs and events related to the exhibition.
 
Artist list:
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc

André Acquart

Melvin Edwards
Soñ Gweha

Ana Mercedes Hoyos
Kapwani Kiwanga
Wifredo Lam

Sarah Maldoror

Chris Marker
Maya Mihindou

Chloé Quenum
Maud Sulter 

Read more

 

"This long-overdue survey…present[s] not just the work of a life, but that life itself."
A vertical sculpture with eyes rests in foreground. A colorful mural is on the left. A small tv and large painting are on the right.

Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema. Installation view at Palais de Tokyo, 2022. Courtesy of Palais de Tokyo. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

View of an exhibition with three films projected onto rectangular apparatuses. A colorful wall mural to the left extends backward.

Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema. Installation view at Palais de Tokyo, 2022. Courtesy of Palais de Tokyo. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

Installation view of a multi-piece metal sculpture made up of multiple shapes with a colorful wall mural in the ear.

Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema. Installation view at Palais de Tokyo, 2022. Courtesy of Palais de Tokyo. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

More about the exhibition

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Sarah Maldoror was born Sarah Ducados in 1929 in the town of Condom in Gers, France. The child of a Guadeloupean father and French mother, Maldoror matriculated into the intellectual and artistic ferment of 1950s Paris, where she cofounded the first Black theater troupe in France. Rechristening herself in homage to Isidor Ducasse’s proto-Surrealist book Les Chants de Maldoror (1868–69), she earned a scholarship to study filmmaking in Moscow, where she counted future Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène among her classmates at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK). After decamping from Moscow to Morocco, her stint as assistant director of Gillo Pontecorvo’s insurrectionary classic The Battle of Algiers (1966) set the course for Maldoror’s first film, Monangambeee (1969), followed by Sambizanga (1972, also screened at the Wex in 2022). In the decades thereafter, Maldoror directed more than 45 films for screen and television, many of which feature leading voices of Négritude and Pan-Africanism.

Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema is organized by Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. The exhibition is curated by Palais de Tokyo Curator François Piron and CAPC Musée d'art Contemporain de Bordeaux Chief Curator Cédric Fauq. The Wexner Center presentation of the exhibition is coordinated by Associate Curator of Exhibitions Daniel Marcus with Head of Exhibitions Kelly Kivland.

The exhibition has benefited from the generous assistance and support of Annouchka de Andrade and Friends of Sarah Maldoror and Mário de Andrade.

THIS PRESENTATION MADE POSSIBLE BY 
Etant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of Villa Albertine

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY 
Galería Nueveochenta

EXHIBITIONS 2023–24 SEASON MADE POSSIBLE BY  
Bill and Sheila Lambert  
Carol and David Aronowitz  
Crane Family Foundation  
Mike and Paige Crane

FREE GALLERIES MADE POSSIBLE BY  
American Electric Power Foundation  
Mary and C. Robert Kidder  
Bill and Sheila Lambert

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FOR FREE GALLERIES PROVIDED BY  
Adam Flatto  
CoverMyMeds  
PNC Foundation

WEXNER CENTER PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY  
Ohio Department of Development

Greater Columbus Arts Council

The Wexner Family 

Institute of Museum and Library Services

Ohio Arts Council
, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts 
CampusParc

Ohio State’s Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme

The Columbus Foundation 

Nationwide Foundation

Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease 

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY 
Mike and Paige Crane 
Axium Packaging 
Nancy Kramer 
Ohio State Energy Partners 
Ohio History Fund/Ohio History Connection 
Larry and Donna James 
Bruce and Joy Soll 
Rebecca Perry Damsen and Ben Towle 
Jones Day 
Alex and Renée Shumate

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Now Exhibitions

Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema