Marielle Plaisir, from Guadeloupe to the MOCA [fr]

The issue of power is the foundation of the work of Marielle Plaisir, a Guadeloupean artist who is presenting at the MOCA her first major individual exhibition called "Acta Non Verba", which is accessible to the public until May 29, 2016.


  • e-Toile: Could you explain to our readers what brought you to Miami as an artist?

- Marielle Plaisir: I was born in the city of Le Havre in Normandy and was raised there until my teenage years.
Being from Guadeloupe, my parents decided to return to their hometown; and it is there, in Guadeloupe, that I finished High School. After obtaining my French baccalaureate, I went to the National School of Arts of Bordeaux, where I studied for 6 years. In the meantime, I also attended the University of Bordeaux III. After my studies, I worked in Guadeloupe as a Cultural officer, and at the same time was very active and productive, artistically, exhibiting my work in major events.
There came a time, when I made the genuine and actual decision to lead 100% the life of an artist, and to pursue it elsewhere, in an location that will bring an opportunity. The United States was my first choice.

  • e-Toile: Last March, on the 31st, you introduced your first individual exhibition, « Acta Non Verba », at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, (MOCA). Which pieces did you choose, and how did you assemble the exhibition?

- Marielle Plaisir: « Acta non verba » is a collection of recent works revolving around an issue that I I’m greatly interested in since 2009: the question of Power and Dominance with, as a starting point, the colonization in the Caribbean. However, the subject has a more universal tone and reaches our modern societies.

I’ve adopted the idea formulated by the French philosophe, Pierre Bourdieu, who defines power as a non-natural and illegitimate fact. The first visual expression of this concept is seen in this exhibition. It is the formal garments or the clothing that we find in the installation ‘The dresses”. They are suspended and illuminated dresses made out of tyveck paper based on the model of dresses worn by the bourgeoisie of the XXVII century dresses of slaves of the same period.


Then, the fabrics used in the “Tapisseries” and “Portraits” series are very symbolic. I perceive clothes as a medium of social meaning, as a tool that defines the rank, the identity and consequently the idea of power.

The exhibition provides room for a performance as well. I sit on a bench, in a half-closed space, where the public can come in, and I perform dressed in clothing of colonial times, which is not tailored as one of the slaves but pertains to the aristocrats. This way, I confront two types of identity, mine as a grand-daughter of slaves and that of the bourgeoisie, which I come from nonetheless.

I believe that my work bears a voice, which is to some extent political with certainly a lot of poetry, but there is no judgment. There is just an observation of the capitalistic society, which has different types of power depending of the social allegiance.

Initially the exhibition was thought of by Jorge Gutiérrez, the commissioner of the exhibition, and was put together in close collaboration with the MOCA’s team and myself.

  • e-Toile:The history of Guadeloupe, where you are from originally, and more broadly the Caribbean cultural heritage are very actual / real in your works. What do you take from these artistic codes when you create?

- Marielle Plaisir: I believe, precisely, that the Caribbean heritage is not so bold.
My work is full of visual codes that one can find in different types of cultures. The originality is with no doubt in the mix of all of this. My communication on the contrary draws its roots within my origins but extends very quickly towards more universal connections.

  • e-Toile: Marielle Plaisir, you are introducing yourself as a visual artist, a stenographer, and an author-illustrator. What do you offer the young public and why do you aim to appeal to this audience in particular?

- Marielle Plaisir: The young public is a very interesting one, lively and responsive. I like to teach and explain my vision of the world because finally that is what all this is about. I offer them workshops around the perception, rather than a real learning process.
The meeting is always fun since their reactions are unexpected, full of surprises and audacity.

  • e-Toile: You have been at several biennials and have participated in numerous travelling exhibitions bridging very different cities and countries; what are your future projects and will they be presented in Miami?

- Marielle Plaisir: :The exhibition was very well managed and presented by the museum’s team. I worked with Jorge Gutiérrez, the curator of the exhibition, in order to display it in other great places in the world of contemporary art. Other important projects are in progress but I cannot talk about them today. However, « Acta non verba » bears an endless issue and I think to work around it again using other media.


To read more about the exhibition "Acta Non Verba", click here.

Last modified on 02/06/2016

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