Dear visitors! For technical reasons, meeting with the organizers of the «Weeks of Conscience» postponed to  indefinite period. We apologize.

Philippe Bordas
MOSKVAFRIKA

Philippe Bordas.
From 'MOSKVAFRIKA'series. 2003.
© Philippe Bordas

Philippe Bordas. From 'MOSKVAFRIKA'series. 2003. © Philippe Bordas

Moscow, 21.03.2012—8.04.2012

exhibition is over

A3 Gallery

Starokonushenny per., 39

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In memory of all the African students who from the Fifties right up to the present day came to complete their studies in the USSR and then Russia, in 2003 I decided to spend a few days in Moscow with French rapper of Chadian origin MC Solaar. Our aim was to recreate in photographs this historic union between the black and red continents. These images were destined to serve as a visual accompaniment to his album. We made a book from them, and now they have become an exhibition.

In memory of all the African students who from the Fifties right up to the present day came to complete their studies in the USSR and then Russia, in 2003 I decided to spend a few days in Moscow with French rapper of Chadian origin MC Solaar. Our aim was to recreate in photographs this historic union between the black and red continents. These images were destined to serve as a visual accompaniment to his album. We made a book from them, and now they have become an exhibition.

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Opening day photos

© Anton Galetskiy © Anton Galetskiy © Anton Galetskiy © Anton Galetskiy © Anton Galetskiy © Anton Galetskiy © Anton Galetskiy

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With suitcases full of outfits already prepared in Paris according to our specifications, we devised a quasi-cinematographic programme. MC Solaar became an actor in archetypal comic sketches corresponding to our fantasies as French children fed on the mythology about Russia relayed by novels and TV.

One morning we reinvented an African student in a tight-fitting Fifties suit, clutching a small briefcase. Another time MC Solaar dressed as a labourer — a black Stakhanovite. We slipped through the back door of factories to take shots against a background of machines and astonished workers. The next day MC Solaar, who proved to be an excellent actor, dressed up in a voluminous Dior fur coat reminiscent of Doctor Zhivago. He pulled a political commissar’s peaked cap over his eyes and marched through Moscow without authorisation, jeering at westernised diners in McDonalds like a spectre from the USSR mocking the spineless young of the new Russia... On another occasion he kitted himself out as the sprinter Valery Borzov (Adidas vintage) and went off to train in an old stadium with an uphill track, apparently to improve his physical condition and realise a secret dream: to become the first African pilot in the Red Army. Dressed in a collector’s pilot uniform with a helmet under his arm he visited Space City, crossing town like a phantom from the past.

French designer Agnès B. made us kitsch ‘nouveau riche’ suits and our African student assumed the role of parvenu in floppy trousers and bizarre-looking hats. That evening he visited a casino. After donning a chic suit and black shades he was transformed into a gas billionaire, or maybe an African mafioso dressed head-to-toe in Smalto...

We had a wonderful time. Walked a lot. A few times we were very scared. With no official permission we had to confront ranks of security personnel guarding the factories. MC Solaar got very hot. I smothered him in a military overcoat weighing 15 kilos and capable of withstanding Siberian temperatures lower than 70 degrees. Have to admit, that was a lot to ask of an African, even one accustomed to winter in Paris.

Philippe Bordas

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