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Jean-François Boclé
courtesy of the artist
950 Rue du Square-Victoria, Montréal, QC H3C 6J7


Jean-François Boclé, originally from Martinique, now lives in Paris. He was trained at the École des Beaux-Arts de Bourges and at the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. His work has been exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), the Queens Museum (Caribbean: Crossroads of the World, New York), the Saatchi Gallery (London), the National Museum of World Culture (Stockholm), the CCK (Argentina), the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Chile, Bolivia, Panama and Puerto Rico, National Museum of World Culture (Stockholm), Philharmonie de Paris – Cité de la Musique, BildMuseet (Sweden), CENTRALE for contemporary art (Belgium), Para Site (Hong Kong), Mémorial ACTe (Guadeloupe) and Kunsthal KadE (Netherlands). 

He has participated in eleven biennials in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Approach and works on display

Jean-François Boclé’s work aims to enlight the relations of power – based on the exploitation of the “Other” – that regulate the functioning of our world. He aims as much at tracing a path towards a possible “Us”, invalidating any border between endogenous and exogenous.

It is thus that he considers his “etymological Cannibalism”, as he sees the Caribbean as swallowing the world, because during centuries, it was the only door to the Americas. Hence, it has been crossed by the Caravelles and the holds of slave ships, and according to his words, “by the banana cargo ships, by the voluntary or wounded migrations, but also by the cyclonic, the eruptive, the seismic, the carnivalesque, the loas and orishas.” Boclé then sees his work as a restitution of all the histories and narratives of the world, because his place is crossed by a tectonic and a “cannibal” history.

Tout doit disparaitre ! (2015)

Tout doit disparaître is an interrogation on what could be a memorial of the deportation of Africans to the world of the American plantation.
We are left alone with the questions that this work asks : “Everything must disappear”: is it to indicate the perishable-goods-slaves thrown overboard during the crossings? Is it for the memory of these bodies that got sold at their arrival in the Americas, or for the commodification of this unspeakable memory by the current cultural and museum systems?
This sea of bags reminds us of the violence of consumerism in the narratives of Afrodescendants in the Americas. By resisting a univocal reading, this work draws much more than the portrait of a society of waste and pollution… it opens on the waste of the master History, its waste of lives, its memorial pollution (erasure, deletion, invalidation).
Just like the 100,000 plastic bags blown 100,000 times throughout the exhibition, this gesture indicates how much collective memory is nourished by a sum of individual breaths, and how much violence it takes to make it disappear.

Works by the artist

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