August 30, 2018 - Mu.ZEE - Pascale Marthine Tayou : I am a Gentenaar
August 30, 2018


Photo: Steven Decroos, Mu.ZEE Ostend.

Pascale Marthine Tayou
I am a Gentenaar
A prologue in five movements
February 24, 2018–February 3, 2019

Romestraat 11
8400 Oostende
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5:30pm

T +32 59 24 21 91

In April 2019, Pascale Marthine Tayou will create a solo exhibition in Mu.ZEE. The artist has, in fact, been active in the museum since February 2018. He is working on a "prologue" whereby he places an artwork in the museum on a regular basis. Tayou challenges Mu.ZEE not to play it safe but to collaborate with him from day one, and to immediately link the output back to the audience. He approaches the museum as a laboratory, a place for experiment, a space that ought to be in constant motion. Why wait until 2019 to pose the questions triggered by his works, when they need to be asked today? An intense collaboration with Pascale Marthine Tayou is like expanding the road that Mu.ZEE has been carving out for several years. The museum deliberately opts for long-term trajectories with artists working around social themes. Indirectly, these exhibition projects give oxygen to the museum debate on decolonization, the decanonization of the collections and the role of the museum in the 21st century.

"Pascale Marthine Tayou veut titiller le système. Il veut le provoquer en y injectant des éléments perturbateurs et révélateurs de ce qu’il appelle l’'hyperconscience.' Les espaces frustrés du musée sont de manière métaphorique des espaces frustrés de nos sociétés et de nos consciences. L’état du musée illustre celui de la société en proie à des paradoxes et à une non-conscience d’elle-même."  

"Pascale Marthine Tayou wants to tickle the system. He wants to provoke it by injecting disruptive and revealing elements of what he calls the 'hyperconscience.' The frustrated spaces of the museum are, metaphorically speaking, the frustrated spaces of our societies and consciences. The state of the museum illustrates that of society, which is in the grip of paradoxes and a lack of self-awareness."   

(Sorana Munsya, reflections on A prologue in five movements, 2018)


The chosen setting for this prologue is a specific collection presentation in Mu.ZEE, with works by Jacqueline Mesmaeker, Keith Farquhar, René Magritte, Thierry De Cordier, Sammy Baloji, Franz West and Thomas Schütte, among others. To begin with, the artist placed two enormous photographic prints in the space. One is a picture of the artist and the other shows a woman. The title Miss and Mr Gentenaar(1) reveals their connection. They are sitting on a terrace; the house reveals no specific context. Wherever they might be—on holiday, en route somewhere, in Cameroon or in Ghent—they feel at home. Intrigued by the questions surrounding "identity," Pascale Marthine Tayou seems to throw the ball back into our court. Our attempt to identify and classify the two characters is confounded by the powerful life-size portraits, who want to say nothing other than: "The world is big and belongs to all of us. 'Les ailleurs sont ici et vice versa' [the other places are here, and vice versa]. You see, quite simply, a new generation of world citizens before you."

In April, the artist added the installation Pizza Dogon. Manuscrits de Tombouctou (2017) consists of round wooden discs on which extracts from ancient manuscripts from Timbuktu can be read. They are scattered around the space, accompanied by three neon works, each of which reads "Timbuktu University" in the artist’s elegant handwriting. These are executed in yellow, red and green neon, the colours of Mali’s flag. Timbuktu is a celebrated centre of Islamic learning and home to a repository of hundreds of thousands of centuries-old manuscripts relating to teachings in law, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, astronomy and the Qur’an. It is also known as the "inaccessible" city, which is still the case today because the region, Timbuktu and all its invaluable knowledge—as old as the world—are threatened by Islamic terrorism. With this installation, Tayou wants to draw our attention to that universal learning and make it accessible, as it were: "La terre comme un pizza est une denrée à partager et à consommer avec modération" [The earth, like a pizza, is a commodity to be shared and consumed in moderation].

A third installation was added at the end of June, The Curtain, in which Tayou explores the concept of "limits." In this work, he literally marks out a number of rigid borders via a curtain of wooden poles that descends from the ceiling. More than at any other time, we are plagued by discussions about the guarding of our borders: debates in which everyone seems to go around in circles without being able to get to the crux of the matter. We no longer see the wood for the trees. The only thing that counts is the guarding of those borders.


A prologue in five movements will be further developed in September and December 2018. The project is the precursor for the exhibition that will be jointly realised by Pascale Marthine Tayou and Mu.ZEE in 2019 (April 4, 2019—September 1, 2019)

(1) A citizen of Ghent.

Closed on Monday, January 1 and December 25

info [​at​]
T +32 59 50 81 18

pers [​at​]
T +32 59 56 45 89

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I am a Gentenaar
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