Music Room

Meschac Gaba Music Room (detail) From Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997 – 2002

Meschac GabaMusic Room (detail)From Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997–2002Installation at Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, 29 August – 15 November 2009

Photo: Nils Klinger © Meschac Gaba

In the Music Room, African and European instruments are displayed alongside gold-painted vinyl records and piles of cassette tapes. Sounds emanate from an upright piano covered in the artist’s signature banknote dots, while a track by Pierre-Claver Akendengué can be heard on one of the cassette players. Several wooden stands filled with tape and CD cases reference the way music is sold in Beninese markets. However, each album cover has been replaced with a coloured piece of paper, which collected together form abstract compositions. A gold-painted LP on a record player emits a scratching sound similar to that produced by bootleg recordings common in Africa. Hanging from the ceiling are three large tambourines, made from enamel plates and fringed with coins, which are based on those used by women in Catholic churches in Cotonou. They can also be seen in a video of a performance in which Gaba created his own ‘plate music’.