NıCOLETTı presents Unknown Aquazone, a solo exhibition by Josèfa Ntjam (1992, Metz). Comprising photomontage, sculpture and a video installation, Ntjam’s presentation responds to the context of the Mediterranean region by exploring the sea as a zone of political disturbance and utopian burgeoning.
The exhibition features a new series of photomontages whose imagery derives from the visuals covering the monumental aquarium that Ntjam created for the show Anticorps at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2020-21).
Addressing questions of memory, History and fiction, the Unknown Aquazone series interweaves references to African mythology and politics – e.g. the Senegalese ritual of Kankurang, the Cameroonian writer and activist Marthe Moumié – with motifs evoking organisms living in the abyss.
Ntjam’s photomontages are paired with ceramic sculptures representing aquatic plants and creatures inspired by Ernst Haeckel’s book Art Forms of Nature (1899). Entitled Métamorphes, Ntjam’s sculptures conjure hybrid beings which unsettle the traditional modes of classifications of species mirroring hegemonic discourses on identity and race in Western cultures.
Ntjam pursues a similar reflection in Myceaqua Vitae, a film telling the story of a luminescent organism falling from space and giving birth to the ocean. Blurring the lines between science and fiction, Ntjam’s film complements a display contemplating the role of mythology and utopia for the emergence of alternative, inclusive communities.