35 photographies color, 77X55 cm
In 2015, Florence Lazar completed a photographic project to date: a set of thirty-five colour photographs in response to a public commission for a newly opened junior school, the Collège Aimé Césaire, in the La Chapelle neighbourhood of Paris’s 18th arrondissement. In so doing, she thus extended her innovative renewal of documentary photography and portraiture from the family sphere (which she had begun by documenting ephemera pertaining to her father’s formative political experiences) to society’s other key formative place: the school. Each work documents an ephemeral object relating to France’s colonial past and the anti-colonial movement of the post- war era, for which the school’s namesake is remembered as a leading voice. Each object displayed was carefully chosen in collaboration with pupils from the school during numerous school outings and study sessions at various archive collections in and around Paris over a two-year period. These included the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, the Archives Départementales de la Seine- Saint-Denis, the BDIC – Bibliothèque de Documentation Internationale et Contemporaine (now called La Contemporaine, bibliothèque, archives, musées des mondes contemporains), the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and the publisher and bookshop Présence Africaine. Conceived in 2009, the work emerged in the wake of the intense public debate that surrounded the Colonial Act of 23 February 2005 and its abrogation by presidential decree a year later. The act’s article 4 had stipulated that teachers in French public schools should teach “the positive role” of France’s past “presence overseas – notably in North Africa”. In protest, Aimé Césaire had refused to meet then interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who subsequently cancelled an official visit to Martinique in December 2005.
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