Minia Biabiany: I killed the butterfly in my ear

MAGASIN des horizons - Centre national d'arts et de cultures , Grenoble, France
30 Jan 2020 - 07 Jun 2020

Minia Biabiany, 2019.

Minia Biabiany, 2019.

Following up on the exhibition I Remember Earth, the MAGASIN des Horizons continues to explore ecologically engaged art practices. Interweaving poetry and politics, the Grenoble art center foregrounds the environmental awareness of predominantly female artists.

Minia Biabiany’s exhibition approaches the issue of ecology from a non- Western, and more specifically Caribbean, perspective. Thanks to its poetic, ephemeral form, the artist’s work forces us to take a closer look at previously ignored aspects of French colonial history, which is perpetuated through pernicious acts of covert violence.

Minia Biabiany’s oeuvre forges a dialog between the exhibition space and a meticulous installation of objects she fashions in-situ. She constructs her works from scrap materials or those derived from vernacular practices. Here, she invites the visitors to a sound-based corporeal journey toward a beyond—the beyond of her archipelago, the Caribbean.

Minia Biabiany weaves intricate connections between all her installations. The conclusion of one is the beginning of the next, as if she were drawing an “exquisite cadaver.” Her latest video Toli Toli (2018) ends with the following words: “Butterflies provoke blindness when they blow in your ears.” I killed the butterfly in my ear thus takes blindness as its starting point. The inability to see brings on the realization that we have lost the knowledge of our own land. This loss is the consequence of long-term policies of assimilation, of the powers in place which support forgetting, and of disconnectedness from our environment. Minia Biabiany’s exhibition compels us to feel and think differently, to perceive the flow of air, and breathe new life into repressed narratives. Being able to see and think; to think and feel.

Deliberately organic, her installations combine rallying words and sounds of lambi shells, the repetition of which carries us forward like a refrain. Transported by the wind, these words, images, and sounds lend voice to stories in motion. In her video Pawol sé van, Minia Biabiany subverts the Creole expression, “pawol sé van”—words are wind—and turns it inside out. The story we hear is told in the first person singular in order to reestablish a connection between humans and their environment, the earth.

Feeling and thinking* are the two facets of the methodology adopted by the artist to help us to realize that ecology does not trump decoloniality.

We must now set out into the future of worldwide ecology?

Minia Biabiany was born in 1988 in Basse Terre, Guadeloupe. She lives and works in Mexico and Guadeloupe. A graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, since 2011 she has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions, including in France, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Germany, and Sweden.




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