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Fondation H is devoting its inaugural exhibition to Zoarinivo Razakaratrimo, known as ‘Madame Zo’ (1956 – 2020), an icon of the Malagasy art scene. This exceptional weaver has devoted her life to weaving, an ancestral tradition still alive in Madagascar, where lamba, a wild silk or cotton fabric, accompanies every moment of life, from birth to death.

Courtesy of Fondation H.

The artist drew the essence of this everyday and spiritual object, first through design and fashion objects, then by transcending the rules of this highly codified art. Complexifying her technique to the extreme and freeing herself from the limits imposed by the fabric or the format, she has developed her artistic language.

Madame Zo’s weavings are of extraordinary shapes and dimensions, thanks to the looms that she made herself. They include several hundred materials such as newspapers, magnetic tapes, electronic components, copper, bones, medicinal plants, industrial foam, rubber, wood shavings or perishable foods… They form an essential body of abstract works whose meshes enclose significant details, and language games deciphered like enigmas, revealing a vision of Malagasy society and a poetic and engaged reading of the world.

The monographic exhibition ‘Soon I Weave You All’ takes its title from an expression borrowed from the artist. It brings together more than 80 works, the fruit of two decades of creation, in a lively, sculptural and organic dialogue, highlighting the major themes of Madame Zo’s work.

A panorama of forest, mountainous, karst, and linear landscapes first welcomes visitors into a composition playing with superpositions and formal and colourful associations which places humans within the “great whole” in their exteriority as much as in his interior and spiritual reflections. Madame Zo’s autobiographical productions allude to personal and family moments, her status as an artist, and her health.

His works are passages, transitional spaces between here and elsewhere, between one state and another. They bind as much as they delimit, are both the point of departure and arrival and carry within them the metamorphosis and the aina: this breath of life that Malagasy tradition attributes to the silkworm. It is then a question of accepting what is beyond us: the black hole as a zone of narrative possibilities. Thus, the luminous monochromes in magnetic tapes from hundreds of unwound audio cassettes propel the words, songs, sounds and music suspended in a parallel space/time, which we also find in the series of works brought together under the name Cinétiss . Made from cut strips of cinematographic films, these weavings explore the material and immaterial dimensions of transparent images. After a series of short vignettes, the plot is tied up in new ways during final editing.

Between literality and orality, Madame Zo’s works activate orality. This fundamental relationship with language is found in particular in the use of newsprint, a daily material providing information, here wrung out, enclosed in the armour from which a few scraps of rearranged, carefully chosen and subtly revealing sentences escape. Critics perhaps? Silence hammers a long, dense and compact curtain made of magnetic strips. Shut up and sleep asserts the title of a small work capturing radio and computer components.

The exhibition ‘Soon I’m Weaving You All’ blows Madame Zo’s mind. It makes his quest for emancipation palpable and promises infinite experimentation.

For its inaugural exhibition, ‘Soon I’m Weaving You All’, Fondation H invited exhibition curators Bérénice Saliou (Director, Artists’ Documents La Réunion) and Prof. Dr Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Founder, SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, and Director, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin) to become interested in the work of Zoarinivo Razakaratrimo, known as Madame Zo, icon of the Malagasy art scene (1956 – 2020).

The exhibition will be on view form the 28th of April, 2023, until the 29th of February, 2024. For more informaiton, please visit Fondation H.

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