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Je suis l’archive, I the Archive

Extract of the Exhibition text:

Invited by the ADAGP (Association for the Development of the Graphic and Visual Arts), Villa Vassilieff and Bibliothèque Kandinsky to work with the Marc Vaux's collection, Euridice Zaituna Kala has herself become the archive. Euridice has enthusiastically taken on this new role by searching for familiar figures from her memories and personal set of references: Josephine Baker, James Baldwin, her father Getúlio Mario Kala...

Euridice Zaituna Kala’s glasswork allows her to develop a quasi-physical connection with Vaux’s archive, by reusing the material the photographer used to create the images in his collection: the negatives from Marc Vaux’s view camera are mounted on glass plates treating the archive. Euridice has engraved and drawn her own image and memories on rectangular pieces of glass that resemble those from the archive, as if adding to Vaux’s collection by reinserting bodies that were excluded from it. However, the artist chooses to work on the glass with materials that fade over time or disappear, highlighting the fragility of our archives and the precariousness of our attempts to record our histories. Glass, as a material, exemplifies this fragility: how many negatives must have been lost by falling or through other accidents?

By becoming the archive, Euridice gathers, sorts and interprets information according to its affective value rather than its historical relevance. Becoming the archive means reclaiming power by writing history free of institutional norms. It means shedding light on people and geographical areas who have been deliberately excluded from historical accounts and giving visibility to groups of people who have been forgotten by hegemonic narratives. “I became this other power that was going to foreground whatever I wanted and however I wanted to portray it, regardless of how it has been established in existing archives.” By approaching the archive through her individual subjectivity and focusing on people she is intimately connected to, the artist attempts to develop a plural, personal and deviant manner of recounting history.

As Euridice browsed the Marc Vaux’s collection, images of a model Aïcha Goblet, sketches of Josephine Baker by Jean de Botton and two portraits of unknown nude Black models. The artist was drawn to these “familiar” bodies which resembled her own. Euridice reflected on these bodies’ presence in these photographs and their absence from the archives from which monolithic narratives of modern art have been constructed. Rather than reproducing these photographs in her exhibition, the artist instead chose to use narration to draw attention to the bodies frozen and framed in these images – trapped by the projections and fantasies of others.

Camile Chenais - Exhibition curator

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