Madagascar arts exposed to the quai Branly Museum in Paris

First major exhibition dedicated to the Malagasy since creation 1946, "Madagascar.", the big island arts", held at the Museum of the quay Branly - Jacques Chirac until ’ on 1 January 2019, Guest at s ’ interview on l. ’ emergence of ’ an original culture according to multiple hybridization.

It is the first major exhibition on the arts of Madagascar. Organized in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Museum of art and archaeology of the University of Antananarivo, the exhibition of the Museum of the Branly Quay shows beauty, the subtlety, the specificity and diversity of these arts : fabrics, pearls, paintings, architecture, sculptures, basketry, photographs... And she answers the question whether Malagasy artworks are affected by the issue of the restitution of works of art in Africa.
With Commissioner Aurélien Gaborit, Head of collections Africa at the quai Branly Museum and head of the Pavilion of the Sessions at the Museum of the Louvre, Stéphane Martin, President of the Museum of the quay Branly and Pierrot Men, Malagasy photographer.

« These works, tables, watercolors, designs from the graphical Fund of the Museum, inaugurated in 2006 », explains Sarah Ligner, head heritage unit historical globalization and contemporary of school and curator of the exhibition.

Madagascar arts exposed to the quai Branly Museum in Paris
Madagascar arts exposed to the quai Branly Museum in Paris by Hotel * Restaurant gourmet coconut Lodge Majunga

A little-known collection that began to form at the international colonial exhibition in Paris in 1931 prior to joining the Museum of the Colonies, then one of the overseas France. « Under the leadership of André Malraux, It then became the Museum of African and Oceanian Arts, installed Golden Gate in Paris, and closed in 2003. Works joined the quai Branly Museum, inaugurated in 2006 », Adds the Commissioner. Some designs also from the Museum of man..


Located off the East African coast, caressed by the Indian Ocean, the island of Madagascar is a continent in miniature. An exceptional position, which explains a diversity – natural, Linguistics, cultural – unique in the world. Long before the arrival of Europeans in 1500, This fragment of Earth has been an extraordinary melting pot according to the travel and African migration, Persians, Arab, Indian and South Asian.

These hybridization, essential to the understanding of Malagasy culture, the show chooses to reveal through the artistic creations of the island, each placed in its context and his era. An art unknown, that is reflected in the daily lives of its inhabitants, in architecture, furniture or personal items (cases, headgear or jewelry) design clean. And who wins in refinement, When it relates to the sacred and the world of the dead, as evidenced by some parts used in funeral rituals, subtle aesthetics, that they are woven of silk (textiles) or carved in wood (Poles, sculptures) or composite (amulets).


It is an adjective that comes up frequently when a naturalist talk about Madagascar : "endemic".. The dictionary Larousse Specifies the term : "Said of a living species whose presence in its natural state is limited to a particular region". No wonder, then, that the great exhibition of Madagascar, Arts of the big island, proposed by the Museum of the quay Branly - Jacques Chirac (Paris) until 1 January 2019 opens with a wink to animals-symbols found nowhere else : lemurs.

Yet, in terms of human achievements, the term "endemic" might be confusing so much here outside influences were shaping the Malagasy creation. "It will be understood., the art of Madagascar comes to plural, and it is welcome that the exhibition réinscrive him in the historical depth of the island, written Stéphane Martin, the president of the Museum. It is the wealth of a crossroads space gives to apprehend Madagascar, which can be said, echoing Aimé Césaire for which "an island is always widow of a continent.", first it took this island that marries the world in order to become itself. »

Cabinet of curiosities

Rather school invoice, the exhibition proposed by the Commissioner Aurélien Gaborit has the defects of his qualities. With the ambition to stir everything or almost, It offers poetic enjoyment of the cabinets of curiosities but sometimes takes the risk of flying over some key elements of Malagasy culture. It would be a pity to snub his pleasure, for a simple reason.

Since ethnography of Madagascar, exhibition at the Museum of man in 1946, No panorama of great magnitude had been devoted to the arts of the big island.

The living world, World of the dead

Aurélien Gaborit chose a pedagogical approach, working as an introduction to worlds complex, each, could themselves give rise to future exhibitions. The visitor begins by discovering "Madagascar in space and time" (first part), then he got acquainted with 'the world of the living. " (second part) before you tap on "the relationship between the invisible and parallel worlds.", and the world of the dead. " (third part). All along are reflected different influences received and assimilated by the populations of the island.


Originally, of course, human contacts and the movement of populations of the closest regions, Africa, the Arabian peninsula, the India and Southeast Asia (Austronesie). Contributions are varied, Austronesian peoples carry with them the rice, Yam and coconut between the fifth and the eighth century while African people disembark with their ZeBu in the 10th century. "Rice production and animal husbandry have substantially changed the landscape of Madagascar.", explains the Commissioner. But the landscape is not the only one to be changed. A rich cultural mix and exchanges continued through port cities opened on the Indian Ocean currents give rise to original Companies, organized into hierarchical kingdoms.

There are no endemic culture and it's probably in the exploration of this interweaving of influences, of assimilations, releases, transformations through the centuries and exchanges, that is the main point of this introductory exhibit. It will take for others, to go deeper into the mystery of creation, to dissect the cultural resistance to the colonial yoke and the maintenance of traditional forms of the sacred in the face of islam, to Christianity, or even to Hinduism.

by Hotel * Restaurant gourmand coconut Lodge Majunga

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