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Meschac Gaba

Artist 243

Meschac Gaba

Conceptual Art

Meschac Gaba (born 1961) is a Beninese conceptual artist who specializes in installation art. He is based in Rotterdam and Cotonou.

Gaba explores themes of globalization, consumerism, and the Western museum through acts of artistic appropriation.

He created a project called ‘ the Museum of Contemporary African Art ‘ in which he installed 12 'rooms’. This nomadic museum was shown across various European art institutions over five years in an attempt to place African art in front of international audiences. Other 'rooms' include the Museum Restaurant, the Games, the Library of the Museum, and the Salon. In 2013, the Tate Modern purchased and showcased Gaba’s entire ‘museum’.

His work depicts themes of fashion in the Summer Collection Room and food in the Museum Restaurant, to the excessive overproduction of food in the Draft Room. Employing local craftsmanship and presented with a European flair, Gaba’s works vary from paintings and ceramics to multimedia installations employing materials such as paint, plywood, plaster, stones, and decommissioned bank notes.

The “museum” set forth a sort of living biography of the artist (Gaba was actually married in the Wedding Room in 2000), as well as positing a biting critique of the power of Western cultural conventions.

In more recent work, Gaba has created objects and sculptures from braided hair extensions that are popular with African-Americans and the diaspora. The extensions, which originated in West Africa, form models of the World Financial Center, the Guggenheim—rendered all in black—and other buildings, and vehicles from the United States and Benin.

Meschac Gaba’s art is there to play with and he presents it like a game master with a penchant for political satire. In an interview Gaba describes, “I dream of a museum without walls, in the form of a village, where artists can live, produce, exhibit, and sell their works.”

Sources Consulted:…/10-contemporary-african-artis…/…/there-is-no-originality-in-my-work…/


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