A discussion with the artist Josèfa Ntjam about the visual archives, narratives and musical sources that irrigate her performance Holy Water: Discussion with Mami Wata, presented the day before at Lafayette Anticipations.

In conversation with Madeleine Planeix-Crocker, associate curator.
Josèfa Ntjam is an artist, performer and writer whose practice combines sculpture, photomontage, film and sound.

Gleaning the raw material of her work from the internet, books on natural sciences and photographic archives, Ntjam uses the method of assemblage – of images, words, sounds, and stories – to deconstruct hegemonic discourses on notions of origin, identity and race. Her work weaves multiple narratives drawn from investigations into historical events, scientific functions and philosophical concepts, to which she confronts references to African mythology, ancestral rituals, religious symbolism and science-fiction.

These apparently heterogeneous discourses and iconographies are marshalled together in an effort to re-appropriate History while speculating on not-yet-determined space-time(s) – interstitial worlds where systems of perception and naming of fixed (id)entities no longer operate. From there, Ntjam composes utopian cartographies and ontological fictions in which technological fantasy, intergalactic voyages and hypothetical underwater civilizations become the matrix for a practice of emancipation that promotes the emergence of inclusive, processual and resilient communities.

Ntjam’s solo and duo exhibitions include Underground Resistance – Living Memories, The Photographer’s Gallery, London, UK (2022); and we’ll kill them with love..., CAC La Traverse, Alfortville, FR (2022); Molecular Genealogies, NıCOLETTı, London, UK (2021) and Allegoria, duo show with Kaeto Sweeney, Hordaland Art Center, Bergen, NO (2019). Ntjam’s work and performances have been shown in international museums and institutions, including Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NL; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Musée d’art moderne et contemporain MAMC+, Saint- Etienne, FR; WIELS, Brussels, BE; MUCEM, Marseille, FR; Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, PT; Africamuseum, Tervuren, BE; Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, US; Radius CCA, Delft, NL; Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MECA, Bordeaux, FR; MuCAT – Musée des Cultures Contemporaines Adama Toungara, Abidjan, IC; Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Ontario, CA (2021); MAMA, Rotterdam, NE (2020); 15th Biennale de Lyon, MAC Lyon, Lyon, FR (2019); and Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2019).

Her upcoming projects include a site-specific commission at Centre Pompidou, Metz, as part of the group exhibition Les Portes du possible. Art & science-fiction (2022); a solo exhibition at FACT, Liverpool (2022–23), and a solo exhibition at NıCOLETTı, London, UK (2023).

Ntjam is a member of Paris-based art & research collective Black(s) to the Future: blackstothefuture.com.

Ntjam’s work is part of a number of private and public collections, including Fonds d’art contemporain – Paris Collections, FR; FRAC MECA Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Bordeaux, FR; FRAC Auvergne; FRAC Alsace, Sélestat, FR; Fondation Villa Datris, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, FR; EIB Institute, Luxembourg; and Artothèque de Strasbourg, FR.

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker is Associate Curator at Lafayette Anticipations.


Madeleine is also co-director of the "Troubles, Alliances et Esthétiques" Chair at the Beaux-Arts de Paris and a permanent member of the Scientific Research Council of the ESAD, Reims.

A graduate of Princeton University in cultural studies, Madeleine earned a Master's degree in Media, Art and Creation from HEC Paris and a Master's degree from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). There she led an arts-based research-action project with Women Safe non-profit, where she now facilitates a theater and creative writing workshop. Madeleine is currently a PhD candidate at the EHESS (CRAL), studying practices for commoning in contemporary performance.

She has been practicing dance and theater since childhood.