Georges Adéagbo at Altonaer Balkon, City of Hamburg

Georges Adéagbo at Altonaer Balkon, City of Hamburg

Kulturforum Sud-Nord

Georges Adéagbo, Inverted Space, 2015. Mixed media, 226 x 280 x 210 cm. Photo: Paula Markert. 

June 7, 2015

Georges Adéagbo
Inverted Space

30 May–30 August 2015

Altonaer Balkon 
City of Hamburg 22767

Inverted Space (2015) by Georges Adéagbo is a project of Kulturforum Sud-Nord and Stadtkuratorin Hamburg (curating public art of the city of Hamburg), a project initiated by the Free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg, realized by Curating the City e.V. Inverted Space is also part of the summer program It Might Be Possible That the World Itself is Without Meaning* by Stadtkuratorin Hamburg. 

Georges Adéagbo’s previous installations in public spaces usually last one day—for example, his installation in the Campo Arsenale at the Venice Biennial of 1999 and in Hamburg in September of 2014. With this particular piece, Inverted Space, Adéagbo will exhibit the installation in an open space for several months for the first time.

Inverted Space is the term for Adéagbo’s act of reversing the conventional visitor-space relationship. Normally visitors observe one of his installations by entering a room in a museum, which is a protected environment with restricted access. This time, Adéagbo turns the room inside out, putting the installation under a glass cover that will be accessible to the public at all times. This is both a spatial and art-political reversal.  

Half of the elements that Georges Adéagbo uses in his installations are objects found in the streets of the city where he is invited to do a project. His rhizomatic concepts and networks of objects and hand-written texts normally end up in Museums or private collections. In Hamburg, Adéagbo returns some of these objects to their place of origin, placing them on view in the public zone, under glass—an act which makes them untouchable objects of inquiry.

The location on the “Altona Balcony” allows the spectator a view of the Hamburg harbor and the River Elbe, the link to the North Sea. It is a fitting place because Adéagbo’s collections of elements from West Africa and images of Hamburg, reproduced by sign painters in Benin, are as much a field of cultural transfer and mobilization of things as is the harbor of Hamburg where goods come and go, and different cultures meet. 

The visitor to Inverted Space will see things that seem familiar, yet are foreign at the same time, a result of Adéagbo reversing the hierarchical roles of the discoverer and the discovered. Adéagbo’s exploration and interpretation of the West—in this case Hamburg’s culture and history—will trigger in the viewers a reflection on how they themselves deal with cultural differences and the so-called “others.” The installation will be a mirror in two senses: one can see ones own attitudes yet also see ones own face, reflected by the glass that protects Adéagbo’s installation.

A complex and innovative project like this could only be realized through the collaboration of partners with different yet complementary skills: Stadtkuratorin Hamburg (curating public art of the city of Hamburg) challenges static concepts about art in public spaces and seeks ways to discuss political agendas through art; the Association Kulturforum Sud-Nord that seeks to identify and break down clichés about other cultures through artistic practice and exchange projects; and the architect Peer Guenther, who transformed the artistic concept into the first glass cube prototype for Adéagbo and orchestrated the technical aspects of its realization. 

Georges Adéagbo was born 1942 in Cotonou. Since 2000, he has been invited by Kulturforum Sud-Nord every year to spend several months in Hamburg. Adéagbo’s work has been presented internationally since his participation in Documenta 11 in 2002 and the Venice Biennial in 1999 and 2009. Inverted Space is curated by Sophie Goltz, Artistic Director of Stadtkuratorin Hamburg, and Stephan Köhler, independent curator and founder of Kulturforum Sud-Nord. 

Georges Adéagbo also shows this summer: 
June 13–August 30, Moderna Museum Stockholm—”After Babel” 
June 16–21 One Room at Art Basel Gallery Wien Lukatsch Hall 2.1 Booth T 8 
June 26–October 4 “Global Imaginations” Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal
September 26, 2015– January 24, 2016 “The Problem of God” Kunstsammlung Nordrhein- Westfalen, K21 Düsseldorf. 

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Georges Adéagbo at Altonaer Balkon, City of Hamburg
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June 7, 2015

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