Québécitude is not about - as one would expect, Quebecois. Québécitude is my vision of the possible actual situation of a particular group of Quebecois: Black Quebecois.
Following its sister series B European, Québécitude is mixing fictional elements to reality, so as to compose discursive visuals, far away from the stereotypical image of black people. The approach also is to reject the touristy imagery to portray the province of Quebec. In fact, the photographs are the result of a real intrusion into the intimacy of the inhabitants of Quebec (garden, toilets, etc.) and a re-visit of common spaces (La Montagne, with Québécitude V), so as to fit the narrative.
The term Québécitude, used by the Quebecois Intelligentsia, is a fusion of the words “Québec” and “Négritude”. It is to describe the linguistic, political, intellectual and cultural resistance of the province of Quebec, surrounded by an overwhelming Anglophone world. The people of Quebec made up the term Québécitude in comparison with the situation of the people of the Black Diaspora, resisting Western hegemony.
Inevitably, Québécitude is a tribute to Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor, co-founders of Négritude¹.
In working on Québécitude, I have tried to comprehend the cultural discontent of Quebec. Through a fictional character from the Black Diaspora (self-portraits), I have tried to revisit the term starting at its root. For Négritude is at the source of the neologism Québécitude, I thought it would be interesting to stress the contrast between what could have been at the time, the battle of numerous black intellectuals through Négritude and today’s situation of the people of the Diaspora who, although aware of their background, do no longer necessarily feel the need to claim or seek the Negritude.
Their concern, today, is to explore other cultures, other territories, without necessarily looking for the exclusive interaction with the black community. They are settled everywhere on the globe. They fit perfectly into their adoptive nation, as shown in Québécitude II, in which the character reflects on the various countries she lived in, or even the imaginary cousin with the Quebecois accent of Québécitude III. This ability to adapt - a kind of liberation, allow them to observe in turn, other worlds which are going through their own cultural affirmation, their own Négritude.
The first piece of Québécitude recalls some historical events: a French note displayed on the wall of a living room, at the size of a painting, gives me the starting point of this series. Is it there in response to the green note (Canadian dollar) which features the Queen of England? The anecdote lead us directly to the current political situation of Quebec, that keeps all the people from Quebec, involved. I wanted to understand better how the feelings of the French speaking community and draw a parallel with the situation of descendants from the Black Diaspora.
Québécitude is influenced by various references, which I owe to my friends and professionals, through whom I am still discovering Quebec. My chance was to discover the work of invaluable people like the late filmmaker Claude Jutra and the Haitian born writer Dany Laferrière, whom have inspired me greatly.
Québécitude V is an invitation to reflect on Laferrière’s comment on the term “Antilles”, which I cite. Perhaps similar comments could be made out the term “Quebec”. I invite all the people of Quebec to reflect on…
¹ Césaire’s first published text, the poem “Nègreries” prefigures Négritude in his forceful, affirmative use of the stigmatised term “Nègre” which refuses the assimilation of blacks into French society in favour of “emancipation”. First used by Césaire in his 1939 poem “Cahier d’un retour au pays natal” (Notebook of a Return to My Native Land), Négritude refers to a collective identity of the African diaspora born of a common historico-cultural experience of subjugation.