Wit Pascale Marthine Tayou
Curated by Alya Sebti
The opening exhibition is dedicated to Pascale Marthine Tayou. With his solo exhibition Kolmanskop Dream, Tayou creates a mental sculpture of the city of Kolmanskop, a former colonial German settlement and today’s ghost town in the Namib Desert. His question is if the argument of the strongest is always the best. (“La raison du plus fort est-elle toujours la meilleure?“).
Today the houses in Kolmanskop are indeed swallowed by the sand of the desert, but underneath the visible and obvious, the hidden colonial structures persist through memories and knowledge, social and cultural relations, mindsets and practices. Tayou interweaves forgotten stories, hidden memories and contemporary images as he investigates the colonial wounds and their present-day topographies as well as their places in our individual and collective memories.
“Pascale Marthine Tayou’s world,” as Bernard Blistène says, embodies what the poet and philosopher Edouard Glissant calls a “philosophy of the relationship” and the thought of a global relatedness.1 He embraces the world’s connected realities, bringing together nontangible impressions and materials, fragments of moments he collected from the succession of places he inhabited, whether for an hour or for ten years. Tayou also plays with “exoticizing” stereotypes, mirroring the gaze back on Africa. In his installation, Branches of Life, he takes the symbol of the African mask, transforming it from a fantasized figure of power into shiny and vulnerable crystal, delicately dangling from the branches. He challenges the meaning of the African masks, widespread over the West and denounces their usage as speculative commodities, in what Tayou calls a ‘voodooization’ of the everyday life.”2 Made of crystal from a traditional manufacture in Tuscany, they become vulnerable objects.
With his installations, Tayou’s loud laughing shakes the neurotic, manicured colonial walls and shows that the argument of the strongest is not necessarily the best. Because, beyond the colonial separation, each one of us holds the wholeness of the world within himself, there just can’t be an everlasting strongest.
1 — Bernard Blistène, catalog of the exhibition ALLWAYS ALL WAYS (tous les chemins mènent à…), Malmö Kunsthalle
2 — Gemma Rodriguez, The voodooization of everyday life: Pascale Marthine Tayou, in catalog of the exhibition WORLD SHARE Fowler Museum UCLA