Africa Nosy Art Echange began with the meeting of artists from Antananarivo and South Africa. During this meeting the first residency was planned and two South African artists went to Madagascar to begin a residency programme that would see the start of an annual arts festival in Antananarivo that follows an artists residency.
During this initial residency the first exchange between artists Tahina Rakotoarivony, Cecil Bidaurd, Conor Ralphs, Meghan Judge and Laurant Lafuma took place in little cottage called Imaitsoanala in Ambohimangakely. Tahina and Cecil had started a residency programme that the artists were the first participants within. During the course of the residency (one month) at Imaitsoanala the artists painted, animated, filmed and explored the countryside of Ambhoymangakely, situated roughly 20km outside of the bustling lively capital city of Antananarivo. Tahina owns the only contemporary art gallery in Antananarivo that is dedicated to the development of local Malagasy artists. It was mainly through the events held at this gallery that the artists expanded their local arts networks artists, and thus invited some of these artists to participate in the festival of arts that grew from the residency itself as a way to solidify these connections.
The owner of the cottage where the artists-in-residence stay holds a small experimental festival at his second home in France called REK. This festival was due to take place during the time of the Imaitsoanala residency and so it came to be that a response to REK was invented, named Rencrontres Austral Imaitsoanala (RAI). This festival took place in the tranquil settings of the Imaitsoanala property. The land bends around at the back of the little cottage, climbing up a hill with flattened rice paddies cut into it. It forms an amphitheater, the perfect place for performances. Fringed on the sides grows a pine forest that acts as a play area during the day and during the festival at night became a site for performance.
“As the colours lifted to the sky and night settled in, the pathways cut into the sides of the amphitheater lit up. Paintings, installations, performances and music opened the space into an outdoor gallery. Artists from Madagascar were invited to collaborate in the festival, bringing dance, circus, painters, film, animation and sculpture to the watching crowd.
By the time we left we had made good contact with a network of artists within Madagascar, through Is’Art Gallery. The first Imaitsoanala residency was kickstarted with a possible annual festival of arts, and the path for a future collaboration was laid down.” – Meghan Judge