Venice Biennale 2019

First Madagascar Pavilion in History

Madagascar will take part in the 58th edition of La Biennale di Venezia International Exhibition with its own pavilion for the first time in its history. Joël Andrianomearisoa was chosen to represent his country alongside curators Rina Ralay Ranaivo and Emmanuel Daydé, due to the invention and maturity of his work, his international reputation as well as the unconditional support of his professional network.

First Madagascar Pavilion in History

The first Madagascar Pavilion will present “I have forgotten the night” with a selection of works by Joël Andrianomearisoa alongside curators Rina Ralay Ranaivo and Emmanuel Dayde.

“This first participation in La Biennale di Venezia is a historic event for Madagascar. It is a sign of dynamism and modernity for the Malagasy nation. It reflects a positive image of the country at national and international levels, despite the all too frequent pre-dominance of either exotic or miserable images associated with it. It is a message of hope and willingness to put the creative forces of Madagascar in the mainstream of the world.”, so the official statement in the press release.

About the exhibtion

“And we have more beautiful nights than your days” – Jean Racine:

Giving material expression to a journey translated from the night and viewed through the prism of torn papers of love and death, Joël Andrianomearisoa deploys the intangible essence of the invisible, turning around a world of otherness as an iron sun fades into the azure of night; as dark light no longer ushers in the day. In love “with the different grounds of three contrasting orchards: cold Europe, India with its pink and blue skies and Africa, a clear, deep spring” (Jean Joseph Rabearivelo), Andrianomearisoa endlessly unites their fundamental, component opposites to create elegant, abstract, melancholic forms woven from natural materials devoured by shadow and light.

Child of the nights of “Iarivo the dead” (Antananarivo) and un año de amor on the streets of Madrid, a lone dreaming nomad straying from the bars and restaurants of Paris to the sleeping shores of the Bosphorus or the infinite horizons of Cotonou, the artist without frontiers brings a boundless nostalgia to the modernity of the square, breathing the sentimentality of material things.

Charged with creating the Venice Biennale’s first Madagascar pavilion, Joël Andrianomearisoa does not pay tribute to a country, but to the majesty of beyond black and its mournful wanderings – folding, unfolding, revealing outlines, singing and laughing as melancholy comes. “The geometry of the angle is a point of no return that embraces the present,” he assures us.

Thinking of his distant land, the artist deconstructs the Palace of Ilafy, the first royal residence on the twelfth sacred hill of Imerina, separating the heavy planks of black rosewood to build them into twelve organic canopies that tumble in a dark cascade of bags, ropes and ashes. From the lost memory of that royal hut springs a tomb for half a million soldiers at Ecbatana, an allegorical Platonic cave, a labyrinth of passions, a theatre of affections… Gutted blades falling from the sky in waves of soot and rain throw up the wan, grey mists of the dying Creuse or the notched, gullied walls of Tritriva’s lovers’ lake. Turning the world above to the world below.


Joël Andrianomearisoa took his first steps as an artist in the mid-90s, when he was barely 18 years old. From the outset his work took form through performances that would earn him the cover of Revue Noire Madagascar in 1998. He explores many disciplines, from fashion to design, video to photography, scenography to architecture, installations to visual arts. This is likely where he draws his polyphonic work from, invading every part of his viewers’ sensitive space.

As a part of this first pioneering wave of contemporary Malagasy artists he also actively participates in the cultural and artistic development of his country (Fashion festival Manja in 1998, the Sanga dance festival in 2003, Photoana festival in 2005, personal project 30 and Presque-Songes in 2007 and 2011, Parlez-moi in 2016 …).

He first trained at an art school in Madagascar first and then rubbed shoulders with craftsmen, which put him in touch with many renowned international designers. His training took a decisive turn at the age of 20 in France when he began studying at the École spéciale d’architecture, in Paris. In 2005, he graduated as an architect, presenting a fully graphic and textile project, far from the classic architectural approach that his research director Odile Decq had recommended.

Throughout his career, his work has been shown on five conti-nents, including many prestigious international cultural insti-tutions such as the Maxxi in Roma, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the Smithsonian in Washington, the Centre Pompidou in Paris among many others. In 2016, he received the Arco Madrid Audemars Piguet Prize.


Artist: Joël Andrianomearisoa

Curators: Rina Ralay Ranaivo, Emmanuel Daydé

Producers: KantokoRevue Noire

A project of the Ministry of Culture, Promotion of Handicrafts and Safeguarding of the Republic of Madagascar Heritag.


The Madagascar Pavilion will be on view from from May 11, 2019, through November 24, 2019, Arsenale Artiglierie, Sestiere Castello Campiello Tana, 2169/f, 30122, Venice, Italy.



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