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9 July 2014

Greetings from the Colonies, Safia Belmenouar

The postcard is part of our history, our imagination. It is also, given its extremely wide circulation, a privileged reinforcement of ideology. The postcards from the Colonies shown here were exchanged between Westerners and remained unknown by those represented on them. Through them, the homeland believed it was discovering peoples when, in fact, what it saw were mere representations. Here the women have no names, they are merely ‘types’. The body is a good like any other, exoticism its stock in trade. The cards’ sometimes erotic nature does not seem to hamper easy familiarity with the object. This exotic and erotic representation of the body is merely another ideological construction, in this instance with emphasis on the feminine. Greetings from the Colonies looks with the eyes of today on this iconography, not ignoring the historical contexts in which it was the product of a masculine and colonial domination. These women from the four corners of the Empire have a single quality in common: they are not the subjects of their own story. A pure construction of the gaze, the colonial postcard does not capture real women, their complexity, in a word, their otherness.

Safia Belmenouar

Curator : Safia Belmenouar.

Framing by Circad, Paris.

Exhibition venue: Bureau DesLices, Rencontres d’Arles 2014.