November 20, 2007 - MK Gallery - Pascale Marthine Tayou: Plastik Diagnostik
November 20, 2007

Pascale Marthine Tayou: Plastik Diagnostik

Pascale Marthine Tayou, Jpegafrica/Africagift, 2006
Copyright: Ela Bialowska
Courtesy Galleria Continua, San Gimignana — Beijing

Pascale Marthine Tayou:
Plastik Diagnostik

Until 13 January 2008

900 Midsummer Boulevard
Central Milton Keynes

Through his installations, drawings, films and performances, Pascale Marthine Tayou (b. 1966) articulates the nomadic existence of his life, from his birth in Cameroon to travelling throughout Europe and ceaseless journeying as an artist working internationally and moving from country to country. For his first solo exhibition in the UK, Marthine Tayou will show a selection of work that questions cultural and national identity and the role of the individual. His work is directly influenced by the drama that he witnesses on the streets of the countries he travels through, and is manifest in the personal artefacts and ephemera he collects, including train and airline ticket stubs, restaurant and shop receipts and labels or wrappings for socks, razors and batteries. His insistent reuse and recycling of these objects confirms the fluidity and borderlessness of space, culture and thought, and reminds us that one’s our lives are inextricably linked with economics, migration and politics.

Two major works in the exhibition, Wall Street, 2005 and Jpegafrica/Africagift, 2006 refer directly to the continent of Africa. The first is a wall-based installation of neon signs and logos of hundreds of national and multi-national companies that permeate the Cameroon landscape, from petrol suppliers to skin and haircare products. The vibrant colour and placement of neon signs is at once a monument to commerce and an indictment of the homogenisation of global culture. Jpegafrica/Africagift is made up of every flag of each African country arranged in a large pyramid pile. Each flag is imbued with the symbolism of national identity and acts as a substitute for the African citizen or collective, continually reconfigured. Within in, the Cameroonian flag acts as a self-portrait within a larger picture. Marthine Tayou does not see himself as an African artist however, but like that of his peers, his work is bound up with the cultures and communities of Africa and its identity within the rest of the world. Rather than seeing the continent as one that is consistently needy, Marthine Tayou attempts, through his work, to provide a different view of Africa, one that has a people and culture that is valuable and has the capacity to give something back to the rest of the world.

The city of Milton Keynes provides the basis of one of the works in the exhibition. In the Cube Gallery, Marthine Tayou’s observations of the city as he has travelled to and from the gallery will be reflected in Graffiti Love, large-scale images of graffiti on the walls of the pedestrian underpasses in the city centre. The work will be accompanied by ballpoint pen line drawings from the series Love Letters, 2004, which represent the artist’s biographical universe, asking questions of cultural identity, global politics and individual emotions. As a whole, the work is intended as a gift to Milton Keynes and highlights areas that Marthine Tayou has taken an interest in during his visits to the city.

As well as other works in the exhibition, including intriguing crystal sculptures, Milton Keynes Gallery will present Marthine Tayou’s imposing work Plastic Bags, 2001-7 offsite at the city’s newly-opened MK Dons Football Stadium. The work, which has been shown previously at the Venice Biennale, is made up of hundreds of plastic shopping bags, fixed to netting and suspended above the ground. The installation is particularly apt for Milton Keynes, as a regional shopping destination. Here the disposable plastic bag becomes an icon of modern consumer society, a mirror held up to the excesses of contemporary living.


The artist will discuss his practice in an exhibition tour with Jérôme Sans on Wednesday 28 November.


A full colour catalogue with a text by Nicholas Bourriaud and an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist will be published to accompany the exhibition.

MK Gallery
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