Revue Noire Spirit, a Founding Collection

expo L'Esprit Revue Noire à Hakanto Contemporary, Madagascar (nov 2022-mars 2023) © Photo Rotimi Fani-Kayodé & Alex Hirst - 'Nothing To Lose 2'- series 'Bodies Of Experience' - 1989
Rotimi Fani KAYODE & Alex Hirst – ‘Nothing To Lose 2’ – series ‘Bodies Of Experience’ 1989

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Revue Noire SPIRIT, a founding Collection

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Jean Loup Pivin & Pascal Martin Saint Leon, curators

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HAKANTO CONTEMPORARY, Antananarivo, Madagascar

26 nov 2022 > 31 mar 2023

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The photograph of a performance by Joël Andrianomearisoa made the front cover of the Madagascar issue 26 of Revue Noire, in 1997. A whole symbol renewed in 2022 with the exhibition ‘REVUE NOIRE SPIRIT A FOUNDING COLLECTION’, at HAKANTO CONTEMPORARY, in Antananarivo, more than twenty years later.

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The magazine, the publishing house and production company were founded in 1990 by Jean Loup Pivin and Pascal Martin Saint Leon (both architects, artistic directors, curators), Simon Njami (writer and curator) and Bruno Tilliette (publisher and writer ).

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As a magazine of investigation of contemporary African expressions, marking the years 1990 – 2000, Revue Noire offers a new and unknown image of the vitality of creation, modernity, the profusion of arts and artists from Africa and its diaspora. Distributed around the world, the international bilingual magazine – French / English – plays an essential role in the history of contemporary African art and reveals many artists, from visual arts to photography, from cinema to dance, from fashion to design, as well as literature by bringing out a new generation of writers.

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As a pioneer, Revue Noire was the first to reveal artists in terms of contemporary African art and more particularly in African photography. This exhibition proposed in Antananarivo comes from the exhibition “Africa by itself” [L’Afrique par elle-même] which circulated from Paris (MEP) to São Paulo (Biennale), from Washington (Smithsonian) and New York (New Museum of Contemporary Art ) via Cape Town to Berlin, London (Barbican) or even Brussels (Tervuren)…

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The book “Anthology of African Photography, the Indian Ocean and the Diaspora” (1999) which is associated with it and each issue of Revue Noire thus is the corner stone of a history of African photography.

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In the 1997 issue RN26 on Madagascar, nearly twenty Malagasy photographers were published. Today, the Revue Noire exhibition in Antananarivo, curated by Jean Loup Pivin and Pascal Martin Saint Leon, naturally focuses on the history of African photography in 140 photographs, almost all of which are originals and vintage. Videos produced by Revue Noire are broadcasted while all of the publications of Revue Noire are on display so that the visitor can participate in the approach of Revue Noire.

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Created in Paris in 1991, and published quarterly, each issue draws up a panorama from an editorial committee established on site, country by country. Other issues deal with a more specific issue, linked to a discipline, photography, dance, fashion or societal phenomenon such as the city, cooking or even AIDS which is devastating the continent. Engaging in this fight for survival, Revue Noire produced in 1995, when no treatment existed then, “African artists and AIDS” composed of an issue of Revue Noire, films by African filmmakers, a CD, and a program that will be broadcasted on African TV channels.

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This “comprehensive” work by Revue Noire is very much in the spirit of its creators. It will be found in the exhibition “African Suites” in Paris in 1996 where visual artists, dancers, photographers, writers, performers will be gathered in an effervescent space and emancipated walk.

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Today, the publishing house still exists and pursues publications and exhibitions, as most recently in Toulouse, at the Musée des Abattoirs, presenting the various facets of Revue Noire through publishing, art, photography, music, video. It is in the same spirit that the exhibition for Hakonto Contemporary was conceived. The book “Revue Noire History, Stories” is the catalogue of the exhibition.

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Jean Loup Pivin & Pascal Martin Saint Leon, curators

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Couverture du RN26-1997-Madagascar. Performance de Joël Andrianomearisoa
Couverture du RN26-Madagascar (1997). Performance de Joël Andrianomearisoa.