Printed for major events, commemorative cloths have over the decades become veritable communication tools and mirrors of African history. Fabrics that convey messages.
Through the donation by French photographer Bernard Collet, the exhibition presents a panorama of commemorative cloths printed over the last fifty cultural years in sub-Saharan Africa.
For over thirty years, this enthusiast has been collecting African fabrics with graphic motifs and intense colours. Adorned with portraits of women, heads of state or, more broadly, expressing the voices of African people, they cover a period of history in which the fabric is less an expression of social prestige and more a medium of communication, a mouthpiece. Produced by manufacturers on the African continent, commemorative cloths are distinct from waxes due to their lower-quality printing, and fall into the category of fancy prints.
From manufacturing processes to distribution, the exhibition reflects on the adventure of these printed fabrics and their use in election campaigns, investiture ceremonies, diplomatic visits, independence celebrations and cultural and sporting events.
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