press release

February 3–April 28, 2024

Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema

From February 3–April 28, the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University will present the US premiere of Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema.

Known as the “mother of African cinema,” Sarah Maldoror (1929–2020) completed nearly four dozen shorts, features, and documentaries in her lifetime. Her 1972 feature Sambizanga was recently restored with support from Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation. Tricontinental Cinema is the first large-scale museum exhibition to reveal Maldoror’s groundbreaking work as a filmmaker, but also as a global activist and a champion of Black women’s rights.

This immersive multimedia show, which expands on an original presentation at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, provides an overdue opportunity to celebrate Maldoror’s antiracist, unapologetically irreverent work in film and her involvement with theater, poetry, and politics. The center’s spring 2024 calendar includes a wealth of related programs that reflect the remarkable scope of her influence, beginning with a February 2 Exhibition Opening Celebration. These incorporate all disciplines presented at the Wex.

Featuring projections from over a dozen films, Tricontinental Cinema traces the path of Maldoror’s life from her formation as an artist in 1950s Paris through her travels to Guinea-Bissau and Angola, and far beyond. It places her films in dialogue with works by artists who were her contemporaries, including a sculptural installation by Melvin Edwards and paintings by Wifredo Lam.

Tricontinental Cinema also highlights Maldoror’s collaborations with cultural and political figures around the world. These include Aimé Césaire, Jean Genet, Chris Marker, and the legendary jazz group Art Ensemble of Chicago, who will perform at the Wex February 3 as part of the exhibition’s opening weekend celebrations.

At the same time, the exhibition prompts a new conversation between the late artist and contemporary artists whose work embodies the same spirit of activism. Contributors include Chloé Quenum, and Soñ Gweha (formerly known as Anna Tje). And Tricontinental Cinema celebrates the efforts of artists such as Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc to promote awareness of Maldoror’s work in the field of contemporary art.

One gallery will bring together towering, fiber-based sculptural work by Kapwani Kiwanga—who is also at work on the Canada Pavilion installation for the 2024 Venice Biennale, curated by Wex Executive Director Gaëtane Verna—and a series of large-scale paintings on raw canvas by Ana Mercedes Hoyos.

For this presentation of Tricontinental Cinema, Maya Mihindou will create a new, vibrant series of murals that is designed to connect the center’s galleries and lead visitors through the story of Maldoror’s life and legacy.

Sarah Maldoror: Tricontinental Cinema is organized by Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. The exhibition is curated by Palais de Tokyo Curator François Piron and CAPC Musée d’art Contemporain de Bordeaux Chief Curator Cédric Fauq, and was originally presented at Palais de Tokyo November 26, 2021–March 13, 2022. The Wexner Center presentation of the exhibition is organized by Associate Curator of Exhibitions Daniel Marcus with Head of Exhibitions Kelly Kivland.

Artists Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, André Acquart, Melvin Edwards, Soñ Gweha, Ana Mercedes Hoyos, Kapwani Kiwanga, Wifredo Lam, Sarah Maldoror, Chris Marker, Maya Mihindou, Chloé Quenum, Maud Sulter