as-tu fais bonne traversée, 2021

presented at the collective exhibition "it almost felt like the voice of a close friend"

curated by Julie Marmet, March-April 2021, Geneva

This work is part of a long-term research project exploring my grandfather’s archives working as a Swiss road engineer in the former colonial government of French West Africa from 1949 to 1962. In the mid 50s, he met my grandmother at a train station in Paris, the first time she went to France. The following 5 years, they exchanged hundreds of letters as she lived in her country of origin, Algeria, while he lived in Senegal, Guinea, Sudan, Ivory Coast and France. This installation presents some of the stamps on these letters, that I scanned and reprinted as objects which speak of the colonial imagery of their time. On the other side of a metallic shelf, a text I wrote is printed on transparent paper in front of a mirror. The text reconstitutes my finding these letters, navigating their content, and discovering that half of them are missing, were never kept and transmitted: only the letters my grandfather wrote to my grandmother were carefully archived by her, but not the other way around. The shelf is presented in front of a series of curtains, recreating a sense of domestic space. Some curtains are white with more or less opacity, while others are prints from sceneries in the stamps that relate to industrial technologies - questioning my grandfather's position as a road engineer, constructing roads which ultimately define access and non-access. 


link to full text (in french)


pics by Marilou Rose Jarry