Have any questions?
Wed, Jan 10, 2024
The first major museum exhibition devoted to the trailblazing filmmaker fills the galleries in the coming weeks, to be followed by new works from Jonas N.T. Becker and Tanya Lukin Linklater
February 3–April 28, the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University will present the US premiere of Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema.
Known as the “mother of African cinema,” Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) completed nearly four dozen shorts, features, and documentaries in her lifetime. Her 1972 feature Sambizanga was recently restored with support from Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation. Tricontinental Cinema is the first large-scale museum exhibition to reveal Maldoror’s groundbreaking work as a filmmaker, but also as a global activist and a champion of Black women’s rights.
This immersive multimedia show, which expands on an original presentation at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, provides an overdue opportunity to celebrate Maldoror’s antiracist, unapologetically irreverent work in film and her involvement with theater, poetry, and politics. The center’s spring 2024 calendar includes a wealth of related programs that reflect the remarkable scope of her influence, beginning with a February 2 Exhibition Opening Celebration. These events incorporate all disciplines presented at the Wex.
Featuring projections from over a dozen films, Tricontinental Cinema traces the path of Maldoror’s life from her formation as an artist in 1950s Paris through her travels to Guinea-Bissau and Angola, and far beyond. It places her films in dialogue with works by artists who were her contemporaries, such as a sculptural installation by Melvin Edwards and paintings by Wifredo Lam.
Tricontinental Cinema also highlights Maldoror's collaborations with cultural and political figures around the world. These include Aimé Césaire, Jean Genet, Chris Marker, and the legendary jazz group Art Ensemble of Chicago, who will perform at the Wex February 3 as part of opening weekend events.
At the same time, the exhibition prompts a new conversation between the late filmmaker and contemporary artists whose work embodies the same spirit of activism. Contributors include Chloé Quenum, and Soñ Gweha. And Tricontinental Cinema celebrates the efforts of artists such as Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc to promote awareness of Maldoror’s work in the field of contemporary art.
One gallery will bring together a series of large-scale paintings on raw canvas by Anna Mercedes Hoyos and a towering, fiber-based sculptural work by Kapwani Kiwanga, who is also at work on the Canada Pavilion installation for the 2024 Venice Biennale, curated by Wex Executive Director Gaëtane Verna.
For this presentation of Tricontinental Cinema, Maya Mihindou will create a new, vibrant series of murals that is designed to connect the center’s galleries and lead visitors through the story of Maldoror’s life and legacy.
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, and was originally presented at Palais de Tokyo November 25, 2021–March 13, 2022. The Wexner Center presentation of the exhibition is organized by Associate Curator of Exhibitions Daniel Marcus with Head of Exhibitions Kelly Kivland.
Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema is supported by Etant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of Villa Albertine. Additional support provided by Galéria Nueveochenta. The exhibition has benefited from the generous assistance and support of Annouchka de Andrade and Friends of Sarah Maldoror and Mário de Andrade.
Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema. Installation view at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2022. Courtesy of Palais de Tokyo. Photo: Aurélien Mole.
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc
Melvin EdwardsSoñ Gweha
Ana Mercedes HoyosKapwani KiwangaWifredo Lam
Chris MarkerMaya Mihindou
Chloé QuenumMaud Sulter
In addition to the February 2 Exhibition Opening Celebration, the Wex has programmed nearly 20 events in conjunction with Tricontinental Cinema, including concerts, screenings, and a public conversation about the artist. See the attached sheet at the bottom of this page and watch this website for details.
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 Isidore Ducasse’s proto-Surrealist poem 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, many of which feature leading voices of Négritude and Pan-Africanism.
Tanya Lukin Linklater, Held in the air I never fell (spring lightning sweetgrass song), 2022, kohkom scarves, thread, hide, ash, copper, artificial sinew, 224 x 120 x 120 in. (569 x 305 x 305 cm). Photo: Rachel Topham Photography. Courtesy, Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver
Jonas N.T. Becker Becker’s solo exhibition focuses on themes of land, labor, and extraction in Appalachia.
Tanya Lukin Linklater Lukin Linklater’s solo exhibition investigates cultural belongings, place, and weather as an organizing form.
The Wexner Center for the Arts is located at 1871 N. High St. (at 15th Avenue) on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.
Gallery hours are 10 AM–6 PM Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday; 10 AM–8 PM Thursday; and 10 AM–5 PM Saturday and Sunday. Galleries are closed Mondays. Gallery admission is free. Info on campus COVID-19 safety guidelines, bus routes, parking, and more, as well as advance tickets, are available on the center's Plan Your Visit page or at (614) 292-3535.
The Wexner Center’s presentation of Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema is made possible by Etant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of Villa Albertine. The exhibition has benefited from the generous assistance and support of Annouchka de Andrade and Friends of Sarah Maldoror and Mário de Andrade.
Additional support provided by Galéria Nueveochenta.
The 2023–24 exhibitions season is made possible by Bill and Sheila Lambert, Carol and David Aronowitz, Crane Family Foundation, and Mike and Paige Crane.
Free galleries are made possible by American Electric Power Foundation, Mary and C. Robert Kidder, and Bill and Sheila Lambert.
Additional support for free galleries provided by Adam Flatto, CoverMyMeds, and PNC Foundation.