Malala Andrialavidrazana

1971 | Antananarivo, Madagascar
— Malala Andrialavidrazana

Photographer and visual artist.

Malala Andrialavidrazana (lives and works in Paris, France) regards travelling and meeting people as a permanent research process. Since the early 1990s, the artist has developed an anthropological study that focuses on rites and memory. For instance, she is known for examining various types of Malagasy funeral structures. Architecture is an integral part of her visual and conceptual training. Habitats in all their forms give us clues to how people, families, and societies function. Similarly, M. Andrialavidrazana’s works also generate these parallels between the individual and the collective. Andrialavidrazana uses photography, her preferred medium, to develop a visual relationship with the world, which she tries to capture and understand through experience.
In 2011, she shot the photographic series Ny Any Aminay in Madagascar. For this series, the artist was invited into the homes of several families to take pictures of the intimacy and humility of their interiors. She explains: “Once Antananarivo residents trust you, they cherish the hope that people outside their community will cease to mistake them for what they are not. Come closer, they say. One gets to know them better as they talk about their lifestyles and the objects that surround them – ancient, in a clutter, or knick-knack – automatically or in silence. Always proud and dignified.” Her photographs depict fragments of bodies, seen from behind or partially concealed, as well as objects, textures, and colours. For two years, she broadened the scope of her research to the entire Indian Ocean: Echoes (from Indian Ocean) (2011-2013) led her to explore the homes of families from India, Réunion, and South Africa. Far from the Western world’s exotic, fantasised clichés, M. Andrialavidrazana has created a tactful, sociological portrait of the geographic area with which she shares her own history.

The year 2015 saw her beginning to work on a new series, Figures, which consisted of photomontages combining excerpts from various documents and archives: atlases, postcards, bank notes, album covers, stamps, flags, and pictures from biology, physics, history, and ethnology books. M. Andrialavidrazana creates visual collages that combine several reflections on the notions of exploration, territory, encounters, exoticism, nationalism, and cultural hybridisation, as well as history and colonial relics. The pieces are put together in the manner of personal and collective atlases, and illustrate a sensitive and critical approach to displacement, to discovery, and to the understanding of a territory, a culture and – to a greater extent – of human experience. Their use of graphic designs from the 1950s and 1970s and outdated colours convey the artist’s will to depict a reinterpretation of history written from a non-Western perspective. Covering antiquity to the modern era, her photomontages place different civilisations at the same level: their splendours, decadences, responsibilities, and traumas. M. Andrialavidrazana’s work is the result of a lengthy period of research aimed at neutralising imposed narratives and taboos in favour of critical and restorative images.

Julie Crenn

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