Film Image
Maison Tropicale
58 minutes
Republic of Congo/France
English subtitles

Maison Tropicale

In 2008, filmmaker Manthia Diawara and artist Angela Ferreira travelled to Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo to “search through the debris left behind by those who took away the [Maison Tropicales].” Designed by French architect and designer Jean Prouvé, the Maison Tropicales were a set of prefabricated houses built out of aluminum steel that could be disassembled, transported to a different location, and then reassembled with ease. The purpose of the portable structures was to address the housing and civic building shortage present in France’s colonies in Africa during the late 1940s.

Prouvé manufactured three individual prototypes of the Maison Tropicales, all of which were dismantled and shipped back to Europe in the year 2000 by an art dealer to be displayed in various exhibitions. Despite their removal from Brazzaville, Diawara’s chief goal in his documentary was to “reconstruct a post-colonial history of Jean Prouvé’s Maison Tropicale to reveal the ghost stories of the relationship between Europe and Africa… The powerful and the disempowered.”

In Diawara’s conversations with the local populace of Brazzaville, it is revealed that a strong majority of them maintained a sense of caution and fear towards the Maison Tropicales, often referring to them as somewhat peculiar and alien. Speaking about the history of houses’ creation with regards to European colonialism of the African continent, Besongo, an artist from Brazzaville, was quoted as saying, “The white man is very dangerous… They got the house and took it to Paris, and turned it into a show, into a spectacle. You see? This makes me think.”

This documentary serves to complement Ferreira’s art project on the Maison Tropicales, as well as to unearth the hidden stories and memories that were “left behind” when the houses were removed from Africa. Diawara’s Maison Tropicale is a post-colonial excavation into African identity, art, and the notion of cultural patrimony. Any student of African cultural studies or history, European colonialism, or architecture will find this film particularly useful.
Pricing & Ordering
Buyer Type Format Sale Type Price
Higher Education Institutions DSL 1-year License $150.00
Higher Education Institutions DSL 3-years License $300.00
Higher Education Institutions DVD Sale $300.00
Higher Education Institutions Life Digital File Sale $600.00
K-12, Public Libraries & Select Groups DVD Sale $80.00
Click a 'Price' to add an item to your Cart. If DSL or LDF rates are not listed, or if you are interested in a public screening, please fill out this form and we will get back to you with availability information.
• Ikon Gallery, 2009
• African Studies Association Annual Meeting, 2011

Call Us 1 (212) 947-9277
  • Third World Newsreel
  • • 545 Eighth Avenue, Suite 550, New York, NY 10018
  • • Telephone 212-947-9277

TWN acknowledges that in New York we are on the unceded territory of the Lenni Lenape, Canarsie, Shinecock, and Munsee peoples and challenges the harm that continues to be inflicted upon Indigenous and People of Color communities here and abroad, which is why we all need to be part of the struggle for rights, equality and justice.

TWN is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Color Congress, MOSAIC, New York Community Trust, Peace Development Fund, Ford Foundation, Golden Globe Foundation, Kolibri Foundation and individual donors.