A Minor Sense of Didacticism — Mathieu K. Abonnenc


Mixed media, video

A Minor Sense of Didacticism
Mathieu K. Abonnenc

Past: May 28 → July 30, 2011

Mka grid Entretien — Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc Avec « A minor sense of didacticism », présentée jusqu’au 30 juillet 2011 par la galerie Marcelle Alix, Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc creuse le sillon d’une démarche artistique singulière, précisément en marge des productions les plus traditionnelles. A l’image du film de Sarah Maldoror,  « Des fusils pour Banta », dont la disparition constitue le point de départ d’une recherche méticuleuse et passionnante. Main grid M.K. Abonnenc — A Minor Sense of Didacticism Tourné par Sarah Maldoror dans les années 1970 en Guinée-Bissau pour témoigner de la place des femmes et des enfants dans la lutte ... 2 - Bien Critique

Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc’s research has taken an exciting new turn since last year. The figure of the colonized (and that of the colonizer) doesn’t hide in void spaces any more, or in filmed representations of agonizing worlds. This research—linked to the construction of a post-colonial identity—and the formal work that stems from it, now create new possibilities. One of these possibilities consists in thinking in terms of collective work, an efficient system to fight erasure and disparition.

Gma abonnenc 2011 14 medium
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, Continental Drift, year 69 (Vietnam : las maniobras de Nixon by Nguyen Thi Binh), 2011 Silkscreen on glass and paper — 2 × (28 × 20,5) Photo © Aurélien Mole

When preparing an exhibition, we try to foresee practical details, and we get ready to receive a group of works that we like to imagine, whose future presence we expect with pleasure. Through this process of projection, we come to realize that some of those projects intersect with our current desires and commitments. We look forward to their realisation because we know them to be necessary to the development of our thought process.

We were recently mentioning the importance of the exercise of a certain sense of responsibility, even—or rather especially—in the context of the art world, which is often presented as autonomous. We are citizens: we live in a neighbourhood, a city, a country, a continent. As such, we think that it is possible for our program to let a dissonant voice be heard in a larger political debate set under biased terms. Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc’s work positions itself under the auspices of important voices of decolonization, such as Frantz Fanon’s, and in close relationship to actors of these conflicts, such as the Guadeloupian film director Sarah Maldoror. From this position, he proposes a minority reading of recent History.

A minor sense of didacticism is the occasion to “say it all again (…) all these names that were forgotten in the books, all the faded ones” 1. This helps to make sense of the film program Abonnenc presents in the gallery’s basement: the same selection of movies (some of them confidential, most of them impossible to find) were projected in Algiers in 1986, for the 25th anniversary of Fanon’s death. Those who attended Abonnenc’s previous projects centered around the African-American composer Julius Eastman at Le Plateau / FRAC Ile de France 2 and around Sarah Maldoror at Manifesta 8 and at Gasworks (London), would have probably understood that he is working with time, through small brushstrokes that paint the portrait of a family he invents for himself, of a context he wants to create.

Gma abonnenc 2011 07 1 medium
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, Préface à des fusils pour Banta, 2011 Slideshow (synchronised double projection, sound (graphic design © de Valence) — 25 mn 40 Photo © Aurélien Mole

In the exhibition he curated at Synagogue de Delme in the spring of 2010, Self as disappearance, he sketched a conceptual background around identity issues to outline familiar works by Joe Scanlan or Haegue Yang. It was quite a challenge to do so in a country where any thought about identity issues either becomes a suspected “communitarian” claim or is used as a shield to protect an allegedly-threatened “national identity”.

In a context that denies the possibility to take into account a different story—which is always the Other’s, not ours, not the right one—Mathieu Abonnenc’s voice joins forces with numerous women’s 3 who could conveniently be placed into a so-called “feminist” sub-category of art history. The division into sub-categories—an ancestral domination strategy—allows some to think that universal art exists. By gathering together the muzzled actors and actresses of History (and of art history in particular), by participating to the writing of a common memory through exhibitions, translations of seminal texts, projections of forgotten films or reconstitutions of scattered archives (like the collection of the Tricontinental journal published by François Maspero or the images of the film Guns for Banta, by Sarah Maldoror), Abonnenc takes over the legacy of Fanon and of the nonaligned. It is not necessary to recall here recent national and international events in order to emphasize the necessity to make this contradictory thought persist in virtually-amnesic western societies.


1 In L’aube des damnés (dir: Ahmed Rachedi, Algeria, 1965, 35 mm)

2 exhibition Watchmen, Liars, Dreamers, fall 2010 (cur: Guillaume Désanges)

3 He translated the text Choosing the margin as a place of radical openness by the African-American author bell hooks, to be published in the third issue of Petunia

  • Opening Friday, May 27, 2011 at 6 PM
Marcelle Alix Gallery Gallery
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Other times by appointment

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