Passionate about music, photography, cinema and more recently design, Elodie Dérond, an emerging artist from Martinique, draws the essence of her work from her Caribbean origins and the beautiful memories they evoke.
Her work can range from intuitive and spontaneous productions to highly thought-out projects that can take several months to produce, taking a subtly philosophical and social tangent.
She recently founded a design studio with her partner, Tania Doumbe Fines, under the name ibiyanε, which means in batanga “to know each other” and which reflects what they share in their artistic approach, reflecting conversations between Cameroon and the Caribbean.
C – What can you tell us about the experience of creating with four hands and what are the particularities of your creations?
E – It’s a very rewarding experience. At the moment we are making furniture: chairs. Our first chairs are from the lockdown period, when Tania had the idea to make a chair, and then we created ibiyanε. Our first exhibition was called Black Experience isn’t a spectacle and it took place in Montreal. It was quite a literary exhibition where our chairs were used to decorate bookcases divided into 3 spaces.
There was a space dedicated to Pan-Africanism and its origins, another space focused on literature of the diaspora and a final space on Afro-futurism. The chairs are all called Elombe, which means Conversations in Batanga, Tania’s native language.
This illustrates what happens between us when we create. The thinking is always done in pairs. We draw first because it’s easier, then we make prototypes out of modelling clay to see how it looks, then Tania makes 3D models of it and it takes us about 3 weeks to produce a chair with a good idea.
The style of our chairs evolves with the time, the first ones are different from the last ones. But I would say that they all have the same thing in common: they are organic. My favourite chair is quite heavy. It’s called Elombe 010 and was made for Wet Metal, an exhibition on the theme of brutalism in Montreal. In terms of projects, ibiyanε‘s most recent exhibition is currently on view at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York as part of The New Guard : Stories from the New World. The exhibition runs until next January.
C- How does being from Martinique influence your artistic practices?
E- I think being Martinican, being born and raised in Martinique, means preserving particular images, sounds and rhythms that are part of me. When I think of music, I think of music with certain sounds, I think of jazz and biguine. I really like that my music is linked to that and it’s an influence that I can’t block, whether it’s painting, colour, or life…
For example, I recently made a short film, Rêverie, about the making of chocolate butter bread, also called “Chocolate Communion”, on which my family and I had a debate about whether to add peanut butter or not. In Martinique we make it for all occasions, big and small.
My grandmother made us so many, she prepared the one for my first communion. It’s a very special scene in her kitchen, my aunts, my cousin and I, an extraordinary meeting and one of the most authentic recipes in Martinique. That’s all the film means to me. It’s a goodbye and a new experience with my family, a passage and an anchorage at the same time.
On a personal note, I have started to make a second Reverie, I am once again trying to capture, to seal the beauty that is sometimes revealed in the mourning of my grandmother in images. The first one was very intuitive, I want to take the time this time to explore the cinematography and the music/sound.
C- In June 2021, the Diasporama festival included Ibánga among its selection of short films, in which you participated. Can you tell us about this project?
E- It’s Tania’ project, which was made as part of a programme for young black directors in Montreal. She decided to put together a strong team and included me. Ibánga, which means Fear in Batanga, is about fear and self-realisation.
Both topics are explored by Sabina Rony, a Haitian poetess in the first part, and by Zab Maboungou for the second part, who deepens the discussion by sharing her knowledge with us. She offers us a look at our relationship with our bodies, rhythms etc, as Afro-descendants.
Ibánga travels a lot, from festival to festival, he recently played in Brazil and Reunion Island, we hope to share him even more.
I composed and performed the soundtrack, on which I was accompanied by Amaëlle Beuze who is a musician from Martinique. She was on bass, and I was on saxophone and piano. Composing music to support other art forms, such as film and poetry, is a process I enjoy immensely. It’s a particularly stimulating source of inspiration and creating music for a film is something I’ve always wanted to do, it’s been one of my greatest opportunities to date.
It was a bit of a chicken and egg situation for a while because everything was being created at the same time. I was working on the editing of the images and the music simultaneously, which was an even more ideal situation, I was completely immersed. I have the sweetest memory of not having doubted myself much. I also resonated a lot with the clean direction of the film and the night scene, the heavy silence it implies, mixed with the internal speech and emotions revealed by the poem and the fleeing character… I wanted to translate this encounter.
And I am proud and happy to have shared the experience with Amaëlle, it was very natural, I was confident to explain my ideas and what I was looking for, we always find a way to understand each other.
In addition to working on the soundtrack and editing of the film, I also took the poster photo. I love taking photos on film. During the shooting of the film in Cameroon, I was able to take a lot of pictures like the football players on the beach, Tania in the water… I could take more photos, but in my artistic approach I prefer to capture the moment.
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