UNTIE TO TIE
On Colonial Legacies and Contemporary Societies
With his instalation "Kolmanskop Dream" Pascale Marthine Tayou creates a mental sculpture of the city of Kolmanskop, a former colonial German settlement and today’s ghost town in the Namib Desert. Today the houses in Kolmanskop are indeed swallowed by the sand of the desert, but underneath the visible and obvious, the hidden colonial structures keep existing through memories, forms of knowledge, social and cultural relations, mindsets and practices.
Pascale Marthine Tayou interweaves forgotten stories, hidden memories and contemporary imaginaries. He investigates the colonial wounds and their present-day topographies as well as their places in our individual and collective memories.
He also plays with exoticizing stereotypes, mirroring back the gaze on Africa. He installs crystal masks, hanging from the installation 'Branches of Life', and refers to the African masks widely spread over the West, which are being used as speculative commodities, as a 'voodooization of the everyday life' (1): These masks are fantasized 'power figures', that do not refer to any particular culture. Made of crystal from a traditional manufacture in Toscany, they become precious and vulnerable objects.
He brings together nontangible impressions and materials, fragments of moments he collected from the succession of places he has inhabited, be it for one hour or ten years. He embraces the world’s connected realities. 'Pascale Marthine Tayou's world', as Bernard Blistène says, embodies what the poet and philosopher Edouard Glissant calls a 'philosophy of the relationship' (2) the thought of a global relatedness, the Tout-Monde.
With his installations, Tayou's loud laughing shakes the crazed manicured colonial walls and shows that the argument of the strongest is not necessarily the best – 'La raison du plus fort est-elle toujours la meilleure?'. 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) Gemma Rodrigues: The voodooization of everyday life. Pascale Marthine Tayou. – In: World Share: Installations by Pascale Marthine Tayou. – Los Angeles: Fowler Museum at UCLA, 2016. – 88 S.
(2) Pascale Marthine Tayou: Always All Ways / Musée d'art contemporain Lyon. – Pistoia: Gli Ori, 2011. – 346 S.