“Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema” at Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus

Known as the “mother of African cinema,” Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) completed nearly four dozen shorts, features, and documentaries in her lifetime. Her 1972 feature Sambizanga was recently restored with support from Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation. “Tricontinental Cinema” is the first large-scale museum exhibition to reveal Maldoror’s groundbreaking work as a filmmaker, but also as a global activist and a champion of Black women’s rights.

This immersive multimedia show, which expands on an original presentation at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, provides an overdue opportunity to celebrate Maldoror’s antiracist, unapologetically irreverent work in film and her involvement with theater, poetry, and politics.

Featuring projections from over a dozen films, “Tricontinental Cinema” traces the path of Maldoror’s life from her formation as an artist in 1950s Paris through her travels to Guinea-Bissau and Angola, and far beyond. It places her films in dialogue with works by artists who were her contemporaries, such as a sculptural installation by Melvin Edwards and paintings by Wifredo Lam.

“Tricontinental Cinema” also highlights Maldoror’s collaborations with cultural and political figures around the world. These include Aimé Césaire, Jean Genet, Chris Marker, and the legendary jazz group Art Ensemble of Chicago, who will perform at the Wex February 3 as part of opening weekend events.

At the same time, the exhibition prompts a new conversation between the late filmmaker and contemporary artists whose work embodies the same spirit of activism. Contributors include Chloé Quenum and Soñ Gweha. And “Tricontinental Cinema” celebrates the efforts of artists such as Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc to promote awareness of Maldoror’s work in the field of contemporary art.

One gallery will bring together a series of large-scale paintings on raw canvas by Ana Mercedes Hoyos and a towering, fiber-based sculptural work by Kapwani Kiwanga, who is also at work on the Canada Pavilion installation for the 2024 Venice Biennale, curated by Wex Executive Director Gaëtane Verna.

For this presentation of “Tricontinental Cinema,” Maya Mihindou will create a new, vibrant series of murals that is designed to connect the center’s galleries and lead visitors through the story of Maldoror’s life and legacy.

at Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus
until April 28, 2024

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