For Minia Biabiany (1988), the tradition of manual labor is one of the driving forces behind her artwork, and in a sense, an extension of her family background: “My childhood was very influenced by my parents. They are the kind of people who, whenever they need anything, will always consider the possibility of doing it themselves”. Originally from the island of Guadeloupe in the French-speaking Caribbean, Biabiany is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, and her work is set precisely against the backdrop of the colonial relationship between the French metropolis and the overseas territories.
The correspondence that the artist establishes between her constant questioning of reality, her roots and the world she inhabits, is both political and poetic, and always rooted in the material, the tactile. “My mother and father like to create their own things, and that had a big impact on my relationship with labor and with physical material,” says Biabiany, “like my parents, I enjoy creating things with my hands.”
C&AL: What role do the sea, the archipelagos and the islands play in your identity as a Guadeloupan and as an artist?
Minia Biabiany: One thing that comes to mind is the figure of the boat, which is fundamental to our Caribbean identity. Our ancestors were brought here by boat. This fragmented territory is united by the sea and, in that sense, has functioned as a constantly changing model where there is no single perspective. Wherever you are in the territory of Guadeloupe, on any island in the archipelago, there is always another island in your field of vision; you are never in the situation of the isolated island.
This has had a great impact on my perception of space and the way I think about an installation and the spectator’s movement inside it. I like to direct the gaze and to think about its choreography. The way of organizing the elements within the installations is linked to the shape of the archipelago. In my work I am interested in playing with the perception of space and with the way we receive our experiences through the senses, through our body.