The Venice Questionnaire: Joël Andrianomearisoa

The artist talks about his plans for Madagascar’s first national pavilion

Joël Andrianomearisoa, I HAVE FORGOTTEN THE NIGHT (detail), 2019, mixed-media installation, dimensions vaiable. Photo: Patrice Sour. Courtesy the artist

ArtReview sent a questionnaire to artists exhibiting in the various national pavilions of the 2019 Venice Biennale, the responses to which will be published daily in the lead-up to the Venice Biennale opening on 11 May.

Joël Andrianomearisoa is representing Madagascar. The pavilion is in the Arsenale.

What can you tell us about your exhibition plans for Venice?

The Madagascar Pavilion will be at the Arsenale, marking the country’s first participation in the international exhibition.

The title of the project is I HAVE FORGOTTEN THE NIGHT. A massive and immersive installation made with paper and sounds. A journey translated from the night through a prism of torn papers of love and death. Something related to Madagascar but also the world – about the night and nights, one night in a night … and emotions. A tribute to the majesty of beyond black and its mournful wanderings – folding, unfolding, revealing outlines, singing and laughing as melancholy comes.

What does it mean to ‘represent’ your country? Do you find it an honour or is it problematic?

Of course it’s an honour. I'm representing the new energy of my country, a sign of dynamism and modernity for the Malagasy nation. It reflects a positive image of the country at national and international levels, despite the all too frequent predominance of either exotic or miserable images associated with it.

Is your work transnational or rooted in the local?

My work in general is always beyond the idea of nationalism. I am talking to the world and in love with the world.

Most of the time my works are dealing with emotions: melancholy, sentimental, nostalgia… the materiality of emotions. So from that there is no borders because we are all fragile and we are all emotional. For Venice the work is related to the Malagasy spirit but the representation will be international.

How does having a pavilion in Venice make a difference to the art scene in your home country?

It’s an historical event. I hope the first participation of Madagascar in the Biennale will open some eyes and windows. It will give us a new idea of art but also a new challenge especially in place where we don’t have any specific art system or places.

If you’ve been to the biennale before, what’s your earliest or best memory from Venice?

I have been many times. The exhibitions at the Palazzo Fortuny are always beautiful. The installation that Pascale Marthine Tayou did of the 53rd Venice Biennale [2009] was amazing. And I remember also a Slovenian party in a gymnasium somewhere in the city, one of my best memory for the night.

You’ll no doubt be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?

Well will try my best to see all the shows at the Arsenale and the Giardini and other surprises. A lunch at one of my favourite place in Venice: Corte Sconta.

And finally will try to forget the night in Venice.

The Venice Biennale runs 11 May – 24 November 2019