At age 20, when she arrived in Paris, interested in the film school of Louis Paglieri, Sophie Jablonska is an ambitious girl from Ternopil, a city in western Ukraine. She studies photography, tries to play in films, earns money by working as a model and becomes friends with many famous figures of the Parisian art scene of the time. Visibly under the influence of her bohemian friends, Jablonska made her first three-month trip to Morocco (January-March 1929). It’s a revelation: she returns to Paris with hundreds of photographs and a manuscript of travel stories. From this raw material is born a book entitled The charm of Morocco, published in Ukrainian in 1932 (Lviv and Poland). This work made her name quickly in Ukrainian literature. It will nevertheless take more time to become known in France.
In December 1931, she began a journey around the world after signing a contract with the Yunnan-Fu Trading Society to make short documentary films about the lives of natives in French colonies. Indochina, China, Japan, Siam (now Thailand), Malaysia, Bali, Australia and New Zealand are some of the places she visited and described in her books, her films and her series of photographs.
In China, Sophie Jablonska married the French entrepreneur Jean Oudin and, before the end of the Second World War, gave birth to three sons. In 1946, the Jablonska-Oudin family returned to France. They built a house in Noirmoutier and Sophie Jablonska embarked on interior design. Shortly after, she returned to writing, this time in French: she translated her famous travel journals published in the 1930s and wrote a new novel (M ou childhood in Ukraine, Nouvelles Editions Latines, 1981). On February 4, 1971, while going to a meeting at her Parisian publisher, Sophie Jablonska killed herself in a car accident. She left behind a prolific work whose essence has since been preserved in the family archives.
In 2018, Rodovid Press published a new edition of the work of Sophie Jablonska – three art books of her travel stories (The charm of Morocco, In the land of rice and opium, The distant horizons) and an unprecedented collection of photographs TÉOURA Sophie Jablonska. This last was published in Ukrainian and French, with the support of the Ukrainian Culture Foundation. On March 15, 2019, the collection of photographs will be presented at Livre Paris with the support of the Ukrainian Institute.
Oksana Zaboujko (born in 1960), a major writer and intellectual in Ukraine, is the author of more than twenty books (poetry, fiction and non-fiction). She is known worldwide for her novels Explorations on Ukrainian Sex (1996, French Edition) and The Museum of Forgotten Secrets (2010). Her books have been translated into seventeen languages and have won her numerous awards (MacArthur Grant, Angelus Central Europe Literary Award, Ukrainian National Order of the Order of Princess Olha, and others). In her preface to TÉOURA, Oksana Zaboujko describes Sophie Jablonska as a “Gauguin of the twentieth century” and one of the first women behind the camera.
She writes about it: “If we admit that the Gauguin of the twentieth century must know how to use a camera and not a brush, we can consider that is what she became literally: she left us” her vision of Tahiti. And focused on the Tahitian women – as well as all the other women of color crossed in the colonies – and looked at them in a completely different way than the Great Men that came before her, on whom weighed, in one way or another, the “burden of the white man”.
TÉOURA Sophie Jablonska
LIVRE PARIS – Friday, March 15, 2019
18:00 – Room Connexion
Paris Porte de Versailles – Pavilion
1 Boulevard Victor