Online series, November 2019

After the SHUNGA themed works, I chose to lead you through my MAPS themed work. First, let's start with a short introduction --- "MAPS ARE NOT INNOCENT" A short homemade video created these last couple of days with Mimane Musa to introduce my work with maps.


Through my works with maps, I approached the topic of black womanhood through two representations of « the African woman » over the last century. Josephine Baker, Afro-american entertainer who willingly played the part of the fantasized « African woman », opposed to Saartje Baartman, who was forced to play the role of the « animalized » African woman.


« Saartje Baartman was exposed in a cage to Londoners and Parisians who paid to see her sexual organs. She never had a choice about exposing herself as an African sex symbol. A state of deep misunderstanding should have isolated her from her European audience but she was unable to understand the spell of « l’art negre » that might have enchanted her European audience. When one considers this from Josephine Baker’s point of view, one may find that Baker, the artist, positioned herself deliberately in this attitude of « l’art negre ». -- Extract of Hassan Musa’s personal email communication with Barbara Thompson, November 25, 2006.


"To look back at the sexual stigmatization of the indigenous populations, in the colonial Empires, it also questions today’s gaze towards post-colonial artistic practice, like Sudanese born artist Hassan Musa affirms it, representing himself between the « Hottentote Venus » and Josephine Baker in « Self-portrait in dark mood » (2003). Because other « zoos » still remain, notably those of identity assignment where the artist of African, North-African, Caribbean, Indian… origin is systematically confined in his origin, surrounded with an exotic and sensual aura." -- Extract of a text by Sylvie Chalaye in the book "Sexe, race & colonies" (Editions La Découverte, 2018)


I worked with maps for different kinds of projects. Among them, the illustrated book "The Merchant's Son" (Le Fils du Marchand). Although mentioned in a post earlier this year, I'd like to share new illustrations resulting of this collaboration with author and storyteller Layla Darwiche. --- Publisher Lirabelle.


A few months ago, in Musée Marmottan Monet (Paris), I stumbled upon an old portrait of painter Monet posing in his military uniform as he was posted in Algeria for his military service (Portrait of Claude Monet in Uniform, Charles Lhuillier, 1861). This pushed me to look into an often unknown and scarcely documented aspect of European artists embedded in colonial authorities, or attracted towards the orientalist movement. I later decided to integrate this image to my works on maps: « THE GOOD ZOUAVE » (Le Bon Zouave, Acrylics on cardboard,100x120cm,2018) #monet #maps #colonies #zouave #orientalism -- (*Zouave = Zouaves were a class of light infantry regiments of the French Army serving between 1830 and 1962 and linked to French North Africa. Wikipedia)

To see more of my works on maps, go to the Artwork section of this website.