Search:     SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 2018
Manthia Diawara
58 minutes
Republic of Congo/France
English subtitles
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Maison Tropicale

Designed by famous French architect and designer Jean Prouvé and built by the colonial French government in 1951, the Maison Tropicales were prototype houses intended to address the shortage of housing in the French colonies of West Africa. The prefabricated aluminum structures were modular, made to be flat-packed, constructed and dismantled with ease.

Mireille Ngatsé lived for several years in one of the Maisons Tropicales built in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Although the aluminum house had no electricity or running water, Ngatsé found it comfortable; she loved the fresh air and the light coming in through the round blue windows. One day, four men came from France and took the Maison Tropicale away in containers. Today, the house is exhibited around the world as a precious art object.

This documentary, a complement to artist Ângela Ferreira's project on the Maisons Tropicales, brings to life the hidden stories and memories of those left behind in Africa when the Maisons Tropicales were removed. It is a postcolonial excavation into African identity, art and the notion of cultural patrimony.

  • Ikon Gallery, 2009
  • African Studies Association Annual Meeting, 2011

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