Martine Barrat lives and works in New York, NY.
Initially a dancer in Paris, she worked with Pink Floyd and Soft Machine. Her work took her to Edinburgh for the International Dance Festival, where she met La MaMa (Ellen Stewart), who went backstage to meet her. Martine was promised a ticket to New York City to dance in La MaMa’s theater. Two years later, right after the revolution in France, Martine received a ticket to New York City from La MaMa. She arrived in the city in June of 1968 and never left.
Together with a group of jazz musicians, Martine was one of the people who collectively created the Human Arts Ensemble (a name given by Charles “Bobo” Shaw). La MaMa provided them a theater to work out of where they ran video and music workshops. They also staged various street performances.
She then moved to the South Bronx and worked collaboratively on video projects with gangs for 6 years. In 1978, this work was shown at the Whitney Museum and was then taken to Italy by Bernardo Bertolucci, where it was shown many times on Italian prime time television.
Following this project, Martine made ‘Woman is Sweeter’, a film about Yves Saint Laurent featuring the music of Galt MacDermot, the Grammy award-winning composer of the musical Hair. Martine published several monographs including Do Or Die (1993), a collection of photographs that capture boxers across Harlem, the South Bronx, and Brooklyn. She also photographed celebrities like James Baldwin, Bob Marley, Martin Scorsese, Ornette Coleman, Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras, Gordon Parks, V.S. Naipaul, Jean-Paul Sartre, Yasushi Inoue and Paul Auster.
Martine is currently working on films related to dance as a form of public art. In 2018, she shot a film about New York City’s subway dancers called Getting Lite which was projected at the Hip Hop Museum in Paris in 2019 and also shown at the Urban Films Festival. More recently, she made the film True Warriors about three street dancers in Paris with a unique approach to the art form.
She has exhibited at Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami, FL, as well as La Goutte d’Or Cultural Centre, Paris, France; Musée Kampa, Prague, Czech Republic; Museum of the City of New York, NY; among others. Her photographs and videos are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the Museum of the City of New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, NY; the Lincoln Center Library, NY; the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France; the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France; as well as many private collections.