Born in Cotonou, Benin in 1961, Meschac Gaba moved to the Netherlands in 1996 to take up a residency at the Rijksakademie. It was there that he conceived Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997–2002, an ambitious work, that took him five years to complete and that cemented his reputation as one of the most important artists working today.
Consisting of twelve sections – Draft Room, Architecture, Museum Shop, Summer Collection, Games Room, Art and Religion, Museum Restaurant, Music Room, Marriage Room, Library, Salon and Humanist Space – this work challenges preconceived notions of what African art is and provides a new discursive space for social and cultural interaction, critiquing the museum’s value both as as an institution, and as a symbol of cultural capital. The importance of this work, in the history of African art and in the lineage of critical reflections on the museum by artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Marcel Broodthaers, has been widely acknowledged in exhibitions ranging from Documenta XI, Kassel in 2002 to Intense Proximity: La Triennale, Paris in 2012. Tate is now acquiring this work.
This lavishly illustrated book will be published on the occasion of the first presentation of Museum of Contemporary African Art in its entirety in the UK. Contributions by leading scholars place the work in the context of the artist’s oeuvre, art history and museology.
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