Exile Pavillon / Layover 03 / Saint-Louis 

Curators : Marie Deparis-Yafil, mounir fatmi

April 28th to July 3rd 2018

After having called in Paris and Marseille and been presented at the French Institute of Tangiers and the Venice Biennale, the Pavilion of Exile is settling in Saint Louis, Senegal, from 28 April to 3 July 2018. Gathering nearly 30 international artists, this stopover on the Pavilion’s journey exhibits about 40 works of art from all media addressing the questions of exile, displacement, the situation of refugees and the history of exile and diasporas.

The Pavilion of Exile is an exhibition concept imagined by Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi, who co-curated this edition with Marie Deparis-Yafil. About the Pavilion of Exile, Mounir Fatmi writes: “From the necessity, the constant urgency to reflect upon exile emerged the Pavilion of Exile project, conceived as traveling project offering an alternative cartography, a free geography of temporary exhibits in the form of stopovers in a series of countries. (…) The project addresses the question of exile as a new area to be reinvented, reconsidered and ultimately occupied.”

Thus, as a sort of mise en abyme, the works chosen for the Pavilion of Exile, in the way of Marcel Duchamp’s “suitcase”, can be easily transported and recreated, spreading out in the exhibition space to physically invest it.

The Senegal River, on the banks of which the gallery of the French Institute is located, a symbol of exile, departures and distance, immediately imposed itself as a major source of inspiration for this new stopover of the Pavilion. Through its history, intimately linked to slave trading for more than two centuries, the question of African diasporas is revived and superimposed upon the exiles of today, fueling the parallel made by Achille Mbembé between the Atlantic in the 15 th century, at the bottom of which lie the remains of thousands of men and women, and the Mediterranean in the 21 st century. But the river also evokes, like the small boat created by Ivorian plastic artist Robert Koko Bi and installed by the water not far from the gallery, with the sculpted faces of its passengers facing the horizon, the opening of possibilities, a kind of hope, a freedom, a right – the right to live elsewhere – and sometimes a chance, as the Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau wrote. A chance, perhaps more so for those who welcome the travellers than for those who left their country. “One might see”, writes this theoretician of Creoleness, “migration flows as an awakening of the blood of the Earth”, outlining the actual landscapes of our shared destiny. To talk about exile isn’t, as the French philosopher Michel Foucault stressed, “to scrape the earth in search of something like bone remains of the past, a monument to the dead, inert ruins to which a life and a date must be given”, it’s about “finding the lost voice behind the silence” and sketching the foundations of globalness. The possibility of exile, and of displacement in general, suggests “that the Earth doesn’t belong to anyone. It expresses the fact that the Earth is shared by all, and that we should all be allowed to roam it freely, without any restrictions”, continues Chamoiseau.

Though this idea corresponds our contemporary world’s need for “open identities” and for a “unified world”, it actually springs from humanity’s entire history. Cultures, civilizations and languages all emerged from contacts, collisions and encounters. Assimilation and exile concern us all. They always have. Just like there are borders and territories, the exile, the stateless individual is a permanent figure in the history of humans and peoples, as much as the hope – the myth – of returning home.

Therefore, is the question of exile a contemporary one at all? Or does it just appear to us as more tragic and harsher today? Whatever the case, it is a vivid reality of the world we live in. The “common world” Hannah Arendt spoke of, the one we continuously need to build and in whose construction the work of art plays a part, might have always been a world in which exile is the ordinary condition, and today, it might be a globalized world that can be defined not by the fact that some roam whereas others are rooted in place, but by the fact that no one is ever “at home” for all eternity.

The artists of this Pavilion of Exile, each in their own way, address these questions, shifting from individual to collective history, from drama to hope, from uprooting to reappropriation, from nostalgia to the reinvention of self.

Marie Deparis-Yafil, Paris 2018.

For this third stopover of the Pavilion of Exile, the curators invited nearly 30 artists from Europe, Africa, America, Asia and elsewhere. Some of them have already shown their work in Senegal, in particular at the Dakar Biennale, but others are presenting their work here for the first time. In this way, the Pavilion of Exile establishes itself a place for encounters, exchanges and discoveries.

Participant artists :

Ali Assaf – Irak / Younes Baba-Ali – Maroc / Sophie Bachelier – France et Djibril Diallo – Mauritanie Philippe Cazal – France / Gohar Dashti – Iran / Omar Victor Diop – Sénégal / Mohamed El Baz – Maroc / Dimitri Fagbohoun – France/ Bénin / mounir fatmi – Maroc / Kendel Geers– Afrique du Sud / Marco Godinho– Portugal / Mona Hatoum – Liban / El Hadji Keita – Sénégal / Farah Khelil – Tunisie / Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos – Grèce / Jamila Lamrani – Maroc / Ndari Lo – Sénégal / Anna Raimondo – Italie / Sadek Rahim – Algérie / Groupe Untel – France / Yara Saïd – Syrie / Curtis Santiago – Trinidad / Canada / Hank Willis Thomas, Chris Johnson, Bayeté Ross et Kamal Sinclair – USA / Brankica Zilovic– Serbie


Thanks and partnerships :

This layover was produced with the assistance of the artists, the French Institute of Saint-Louis and Studio Fatmi.