Eliane Mackintosh, Art Historian (AICA/SC – Gens de la Caraibe), quoted with Author’s permission (Research Work – 2007 – Birkbeck College – London).
Echoes in the Diaspora - Perhaps because of my own experience of the loss of an Atlantic Elsewhere, the oeuvre of an artist whom I only know through exhibition brochures1 strikes a sensitive cord. I therefore feel it mandatory to polish this swift brush of Martinique’s contemporary art scene with a peep at an artist from the
Diaspora whose early life is marked by two symbolic and traumatic experiences of loss which guide his artistic path. Jean-Francois Bocle (who studied arts at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, in Bourges and Paris) was born in 1971 in Martinique. On a flight between Fort-de-France and New York, all photographs of his birth and childhood were lost; which according to him swung his quest for identity towards void and evanescence; ‘I constructed myself around my disappearance from the familial iconography’. The second loss occurring when, aged 15, he was taken from Martinique to Paris to live, unexpectedly, without even the time to pack anything, awoke individual and collective memories of a brutal past which had been occulted by selective history teaching force-fed on school benches. His work, mainly installations but also videos, photographs, embodies recurring paradigms such as: ‘inscription/disappearance, exchange/loss, here/elsewhere, plural/intimate’ and interrogates themes like insecurity, corporal transience, merchandise and memory’ conveyed in disquieting titles like Transport (2001), Zones d’attente (2003), Aller simple (2003), Boat (2004), Atlantique (2004), En debris de mes voyages (2004), Tout doit disparaitre! (2001); the materials used are ephemeral rejects collected on trips, sometimes taken out of dustbins, discarded clothes, cardboard, bits of carpets, cut up photographs. Often geographical inscriptions in white paint express ‘a state of mourning for an Atlantic elsewhere’. ‘Zone d’attente’ (commissioned by the Mairie de Paris) reproducing the photographic traces of an event which took place in a public hall of the 18th Arrondissement in Paris is representative of his work. (Appendix10).
1 Profile of Boclé J-F – Exhibition Brochure, CMAC , May-June 2006 – Artheme No 17
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