J’ai tué le papillon dans mon oreille
I killed the butterfly in my ear
19 Jun–8 Aug 2021
Minia Biabiany (b. 1988, Guadeloupe) arranges materials, sounds, videos and images to form spacial narratives. These deal with the conflictual and violent histories that have been inscribed into the archipelago of Guadeloupe and into the bodies of its people. They tell of the ongoing ecological and political ramifications of the plantation economy and slavery during French colonial rule, as well as the continuing contamination of the ecosystem through the use of the pesticide Kepone from the 1970s on. Under persistent conditions of colonial depletion, exploitation and destruction, how can a connection to the land be established?
A particular attention to the nature, use and meaning of materials characterises Biabiany’s practice. The lines of earth piled up across the floor form patterns that recall a traditional weaving technique, used to make fish traps in the Caribbean. Biabiany interweaves and entwines tales forgotten in Western historiography; tales of her home country, bound once again in neocolonial relationships of dependency as a department of Overseas France.
Biabiany attaches decisive importance to movement and intuitive exploration in space, as well as to the sensual and corporeal experience of space, in order to place those overlapping and intermingling narratives in relation. She takes on the task of troubling the dichotomies of ‘nature’ and ‘culture’, ‘subject’ and ‘object’, and of giving voice to other-than-human entities. In this way, connections and dependencies within a territory can be made visible: shells become mediums of communication; dangling chains made of moulded coloured wax and burnt pieces of wood are presented to the wind as votive offerings, said to hold powers of healing and resistance; burned willow baskets resembling boat hulls refer, in their fragility, to ephemerality and defencelessness – to those conditions that can be traced throughout the exhibition in a multitude of languages, voices and images.
In her examination of the materiality of more-than-human beings, to their ways of being and working, Biabiany lays clear how the exploitation of ecological resources is inextricably linked with the continued presence of colonial power structures.
Biabiany’s exhibition I killed the butterfly in my ear at Kunstverein Freiburg is her first institutional solo exhibition in Germany and has been developed from an earlier show at Le MAGASIN des horizons in Grenoble, 2020.
The artist would like to thank Laboratoire d’Archivage de l’Oralité in Fort-de-France, Martinique.
In cooperation with Le MAGASIN des horizons:
Fri, 18 Jun 2021, 6–10 pm
Sat, 19 Jun 2021, 3 pm
Artist Talk with Minia Biabiany
Tue, 6 Jul 2021, 7 pm
Facing the Colonial Toxicity of the World: The Case of the French Caribbean
Lecture by and Conversation with Malcolm Ferdinand
(online, in English)
Tue, 13 Jul 2021, 7 pm
Freiburg and the German Colonial History
Lecture by and Conversation with Dr. Heiko Wegmann
Tue, 20 Jul 2021, 7 pm
Martinique, a landscape of the world
An evening about Édouard Glissant with Beate Thill
Thu, 22 Jul 2021, 7 pm
Curator’s Tour with Heinrich Dietz
Thu, 5 Aug 2021, 7 pm
Guided Tour with Theresa Rößler