Saturday 30 October 2010

Maison Tropicale film in Amsterdam

Meeting Jeremy Weate

I had the pleasure of meeting Jeremy Weate of on Thursday on his visit to Amsterdam to attend an event organised by the Prince Claus Fund [1], a charity named for the late consort of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and the African Architecture Matters [2] organisation.

Jeremy has a doctorate in philosophy, has lived in Nigeria since 2004; a veritable commentator on Nigerian affairs who has probably more than many indigenous Nigerians travelled the length and breath of Nigeria, seeing lots of unappreciated sites national importance, heritage and culture whilst running together with his wife a publishing outfit called Cassava Republic Press [3].

I dare say, Jeremy has almost unchallengeable claims to being quite Nigerian and for his birthday present just about a month ago desired having his own Nigerian passport – the irony was not lost on the fact that many with a Nigerian heritage could not see why he would cherish such an association whilst they had rejected theirs by exercising rights to other nationalities but Nigerian.

Jeremy was one of the founding proprietors of the Nigerian Next newspaper [4] which has a well visited online presence, he has since left that company to concentrate on other progressive and development ventures in Nigeria.

In any case, I received an Facebook message from Jeremy that he was coming to my city, I could not miss the opportunity to meet him, so I offered to meet him at the airport and help him round the city to his hotel, the venue of the event and possibly a vegan restaurant – we ended up at an Indonesian restaurant where we were well catered for addressing our opposite palates with tasty cuisine.

Modernist architecture and the Maison Tropicale narrative

The event Jeremy was attending brought together elements of colonialism and modernist architecture in a film featuring Ângela Ferreira [5] called Maison Tropicale [6] directed by Professor Manthia Diawara [7]; a perspective of prefabricated architecture prototypes of aluminium by Jean Prouvé [8] built in Niger and Congo Brazzaville between 1949 and 1951.

These buildings after much neglect and enticement coupled with collusion of African government officials were dismantled in 2000, refurbished, reassembled and put on display in London with permanent exhibits at the top of the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris and in New York where the one from Congo Brazzaville sold at auction for almost $5 million [9] in 2007.

The programme [10] for the evening at De Brakke Grond [11] included an introduction by Manthia Diawara launching his new book , African Film: New Forms of Aesthetics and Politics [12]; the screening of his film, Maison Tropical after which there was an open discussion with Manthia Diawara and Joe Osae Addo; a Ghanaian architect of international renown.

It was so easy to miss the import of the film and the issues covered because the obvious reference to modernist architecture and interest in architecture and the work of Jean Prouvé could easily have masked the societal, cultural, heritage and contemporary attitudes to things we should treasure but fail to appreciate – those matters I would address in a series of Maison Tropicale narrative blogs besides this one.

Afterwards, I met with lots of people from all backgrounds, many architects, had my copy of Manthia Diawara’s book signed by the author himself and found that I was not that much a dabhand at networking as Jeremy was. It was a fine evening and was glad to have been there.


[1] Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development

[2] African Architecture Matters

[3] Cassava Republic Press - feeding the African imagination

[4] NEXT: latest news, sport and views from Nigeria

[5] Ângela Ferreira – MAISON TROPICALE / e-flux

[6] Jean Prouvé - La Maison Tropicale - Presented by André Balazs

[7] Manthia Diawara - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[8] Jean Prouvé - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[9] The Prouvé Prototype Maison Tropicale Sold for $4,968,000 at Christie's | Home | Art Knowledge News

[10] AAMatters, Invitation for an evening with Manthia Diawara and Joe Osae Addo

[11] Brakke Grond - English - Language no problem

[12] African Film: New Forms of Aesthetics and Politics (9783791343426): Manthia Diawara

Youtube references

YouTube - Angela Ferreira on her film project the Maison Tropicale

YouTube - La Maison Tropicale

YouTube - Jean Prouvé – 3D Animation construction of La Maison Tropicale

La Maison Tropicale Series

Maison Tropicale film in Amsterdam

Deconstructing Maison Tropicale - Introduction

Maison Tropicale - Ownership

Maison Tropicale - Heritage

Maison Tropicale - Corrupt enterprise

Maison Tropicale - Grand Projects


Anonymous said...

good points and the details are more specific than elsewhere, thanks.

- Mark

Anonymous said...

last week our class held a similar talk on this topic and you show something we have not covered yet, appreciate that.

- Lora

Anonymous said...

Amazing site! Please continue the good entries.

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