28.05., 15.45 Uhr
In 1941 André Breton and André Masson spent a few days in the French colony Martinique, breaking the journey from Marseille to their exile in New York. By chance, Breton discovered the periodical Tropiques with its breathtaking, surrealistic poems and became friends with the editors Aimé and Suzanne Césaire, who had founded the journal Etudiant Noir in 1934 in Paris. The story is often told to illustrate the expansion of French Surrealism into the Caribbean. Yet this was by no means the objective of Tropiques. On the contrary, the idea was to construct an independent, local culture, which could not be based on indigenous traditions, the absence of which Aimé Césaire described as an absolute cultural void. Instead of offering invented traditions or racial concepts of identity like Négritude, the authors of Tropiques provided an amazing textual patchwork, borrowing from a broad variety of sources. While European fascism, World War II and censorship by the local Vichy-government isolated black intellectuals on Martinique, the periodical celebrated an outburst of poetical and critical energy. Tropiques defined Martinique as a site of cross-cultural relations between avant-garde movements in the Caribbean, Europe and the USA. The debates about aesthetics and politics, surrealism and realism, slavery and emancipation refer predominantly to poetry and language, but also to natural history, music and painting.
Viktoria Schmidt-Linsenhoff is Professor Emerita of art history at the University of Trier, Germany, where she is a board member of the Center for Postcolonial and Gender Studies. She is the author of Ästhetik der Differenz: Postkoloniale Perspektiven vom 16. bis 21. Jahrhundert. 15 Fallstudien (2010) and (co-) editor of Weiße Blicke: Geschlechtermythen des Kolonialismus (2004), Postkolonialismus, Jahrbuch der Guernica-Gesellschaft (2002) and Das Subjekt und die Anderen: Interkulturalität und Geschlechterdifferenz vom 18. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart (2001).