This event marks the opening of Meschac Gaba: Museum of Contemporary African Art. A single work, consisting of twelve rooms, the Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997-2002 took five years to complete and is the largest acquisition Tate has ever made. The inclusion of this work in Documenta XI in 2002 cemented Gaba’s reputation as one of the most important artists working today. Join us for a unique opportunity to hear the artist talk to Tate Modern’s Director, Chris Dercon about this work, the significance of its display at the Tate Modern and where it fits within his practice more broadly.
Chris Dercon and Meschac Gaba have been friends for many years. In 2000, Dercon interviewed Gaba at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, where Dercon was Director at that time. That same autumn Gaba married Alexandra van Dongen, curator of pre-industrial design at the museum, in an official civil ceremony at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, for which Dercon acted as a witness. Documentation of the wedding features in the Marriage Room, one of the twelve rooms of this work.
Meschac Gaba was born in 1961 in Cotonou, Benin. He studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam in 1996–7, and currently lives in Cotonou and Rotterdam. In 1997 Gaba inaugurated his major work, The Museum of Contemporary African Art, a project in which the artist installed 12 rooms of a nomadic museum in various institutions over a period of five years, culminating with his presentation of the ‘Humanist Space’ at Documenta 11. Gaba’s survey exhibition Museum for Contemporary African Art & More was presented at the Museum de Paviljoens in Almere, the Netherlands; the Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany; and the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, in 2009–10. Solo exhibitions include Glue Me Peace at the Nobel Peace Center, Oslo (2006), and Tate Modern, London (2005). Group shows include The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds after 1989 at ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany (2011); Touched, the 2010 Liverpool Biennial; Africa Remix (2004–7) and, in 2006, the São Paolo, Gwangju, Sydney and Havana biennales.