Ange Swana – Matriarchal Protection, 2021
The Dress of Dreams
The notion of identity is central in my work. It is the result of a multitude of factors - individual and collective - and can be looked at at different levels.
I have called this series « The Dress of Dreams ». It started from a chromatic exploration. A neutral background first, but charged and mysterious. Then fabrics in bright colors. The female characters are dressed, or undressed. But the clothes depicted are from another time - a time when they were called « the attire of civilized men and women ».
Through those contrasts, those contradictions maybe, I wanted to shed a light on the caricatural representations that drive us - and the very ambiguity of the concept of civilization. It is the case in my home country, DRC, and probably elsewhere in Africa. As of today, generations of young people continue to blunder their way into an uncertain future. I think they often lack their own references - methodological, historical, institutional. Without them, it is difficult to define one’s own ideals and to solve the problems of a given time, of a given society. I have actually included historical references here: to slaves razzias, European colonization, christianization… But as much as the fact themselves, it is how we address them that determines who we are. Here, we touch upon the wider questions of education and training - with their choices and omissions. I can also think of oral tradition - and relate to my own family history. It was passed on to me without « material excavations » - and maybe, to a larger extent, through a trans-generational cell memory. Those transmission methods determine who I am now, and my artistic approach.
In all this, there is often some sort of an illusion in our attempts to « reconstitute our history » - whether individual or collective. We end up resorting to fantasy, dreams and utopias. This is also a reason for the dreamlike approach in this series.
Enquiry for Ange Swana – Matriarchal Protection, 2021
Ange Swana – Matriarchal Protection Figures - 2021
150 x 100 cm
Oil and acrylic on canvas