Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc explores areas often neglected by (post) colonial history through art, research, publishing, and programming. His work is characterised by a diversity of media (sound, video, text, drawing,sculpture, collections of objects) and deals with the concepts of oblivion andexploitation, as well as the violent nature of official narratives and archives. Drawing on social and natural sciences, the artist produces new narratives that lie between evidence and fiction.
For his new sound installation—produced in partnership with Thomas Tilly— he uses the work of Guyanese author Wilson Harris (1921-2018) and the text The Music of Living Landscapes as a starting point. Like a deciphering of the alphabet evoked by Harris, the exhibition ‘In the Womb of the Glass Ship’ offers a subjective and sensory understanding of knowledge, identity, and language.
The exhibition is coproduced by Centre d’Art Contemporain d’Ivry, Le Crédac (FR) where it will travel next year.
Wilson Harris & The Music of Living Landscapes
“The work of the Guyanese writer Wilson Harris (1921-2018), has taken a fundamental importance in the thematic, formal and conceptual directions of my plastic work in recent years. Since 2018, I have been able to speak (Towards a Vanguard Journalism, Dakar Biennale, 2018), conceive events (The Secret Ladder, Musée du Quai Branly, 2018 and The Music of Living Landscapes, Lafayette Anticipation, 2018), exhibitions (Palace of the Peacock, Musée départemental d’art contemporain, Rochechouart, 2018) or works addressing the work of Wilson Harris.” - Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc
Wilson Harris was first a surveyor and hydrographer for 17 years before devoting himself fully to literature. If he left Guyana for England at the age of 38, never to return, these years of wandering on the rivers of Guyana upstream to the depths of the Amazonian forests would leave a deep impression on him, and would give the formal and conceptual directions to his novels and theoretical texts.
Throughout his work, Wilson Harris has endeavoured to question Caribbean philosophical and literary traditions, while at the same time applying himself to constructing an imaginary that is specific to the geographical area of the Guyana Shield, which extends from Guyana to so-called French Guyana, including Suriname.
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc was born in French Guyana. He lives and works in Sète (FR). Through a multifaceted approach that includes activities as an artist, researcher,curator and film programmer, Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc is committed to exploring areas neglected by colonial and post-colonial history. Absence, haunting and the representation of violence are all themes addressed in the artist’s work, which proceeds by extraction and excavation and works to reinscribe, in collective history, personalities and cultural materials that have been silenced. Often involving the collaboration of actors from various disciplinary fields and incorporating the production of drawings, films, slideshows and discursive devices, Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc’s practice is defined more particularly in terms of an interrogation, a weaving of affiliations and a reflection on the role of images in the formation of identity.
Recent solo exhibitions include, Gods Moving in Places. The Day Reader at IFA (Berlin, 2022), The Music of Living Landscapes at Kestner Gesellschaft (Hannover, 2022), Le palais du Paon at the Musée départemental d’art contemporain (Rochechouart, 2018), Concerning Solitude at the Jumex Foundation (Mexico City, 2018), Maintaining the Distance, at Guyane Art Factory (Cayenne, 2017), Mefloquine Dreams at MMK (Frankfurt, 2016), Songs For a Mad King, at Kunsthalle (Basel, 2013), Préface à des fusils pour Banta, at Gasworks (London, 2011). Among his recent group exhibitions, Le déracinement - On Diasporic Imaginations at Z33 (Hasselt, 2021), Rencontres Photographiques de Guyane ( St-Laurent du Maroni, 2019), Que fût 1848?, Frac Nord Pas-de- Calais (Dunkerque, 2018), Stories of Almost Everyone at Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, 2018), Jiwa, Jakarta Biennale (2017), Personne et les autres, Belgian Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale - All the World’s Futures, (2015), Leiris&Co, Centre Pompidou-Metz, (2015), the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014). He was a resident at the French Academy in Rome - Villa Medici in 2016-2017, and a guest artist at the DAAD, Berlin for 2019. He is now a Phd candidate, EDESTA- Paris8. He also writes and co-edits books with the publishing house B42.
Images: Wacapou, le cimetière, 2017 Lambda print, 180x120cm ; Theoria Musicae, 1492, Franchino Gaffurio. Courtesy of the artist