Minia Biabiany One month after being known in that island

Minia Biabiany (b. 1988) is a Guadeloupean multimedia artist from Basse-Terre who lives and works in both Mexico City and Saint-Claude, Guadeloupe. She studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, France, and is the recipient of the 2018 Horizn Award, the 2019 Prix Sciences Po Paris Award, and the 2019 Tout-Monde festival award for visual arts in Miami. Her work has been shown in the 10th Biennale of Berlin, at TEOR/éTica in Costa Rica, Witte de Wite in Rotterdam, and Cráter Invertido and Bikini Wax in Mexico City.

ON VIEW: Toli Toli, 2018

Some experts from Brian Fee’s interview with Minia Biabiany.

Q: What does “Toli Toli” mean?

A: “Toli toli” is the Creole name for the chrysalis of a butterfly that moves its tail when taken from the soil. Kids in rural areas in the 1950s and ’60s would sing a song to it: “Toli toli montré mwen chimen a…,” meaning “Toli toli show me the way to…” and then the kid would say the name of a town or a country she or he knew or imagined. The demand that the toli toli show the way to somewhere elsewhere was my starting point to talk about how we relate to the land, about the disconnection we have with where we live, about the disconnected knowledge, magic, and force of that place. The global decolonialization moment we are observing and taking part in today is undoubtedly deeply needed. But now that our voices are slowly being recognized and legitimated, my question is how do I transform my reality, my relation to the world, my relationship with myself? In Toli Toli, the traditional kids’ song is altered with a new demand to look at where we actually are, to be shown the path to the sea and to home. I built that video while being back in Guadeloupe after many years abroad. At that time, I was realizing how little is said about the political situation of Guadeloupe and its historical fights against assimilation.

Q: You have called this work “an aperture—a possibility for an intimate gaze.” This formulation suggests a remove, like looking through a camera lens, that is not about having a shared experience with other viewers yet still allows for empathy, intimacy, vulnerability. Is that your hope for visitor interaction with, and reception of, your work in Basel?

A: Yes, each context conditions a certain type of gaze, a mode of observation, a capacity of reception. The work should play with those by provoking its own rhythm, its own pace.

To explore the other artists on view, click here.
To view the exhibtion One month after being known on that island, click here.

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