- Pascale Marthine Tayou born 1967
- Crystal glass, herbs, clay, feathers, plaster and wood
- Object: 610 × 230 × 280 mm
- Purchased with funds provided by the Africa Acquisitions Committee and Harry and Lana David 2018
This is one of a group of five Poupées Pascales by Pascale Marthine Tayou in Tate’s collection, titled #7, #9, #11, #15 and #17 and dated 2013 (see Tate T15074–T15078). They are inspired by traditional African sculptures and hand-blown in crystal, which emphasises the preciousness of the figures, but also their fragility. The French title translates as ‘Pascale’s dolls’, suggesting a personal connection between the artist and each of the sculptures. In accordance with traditional African approaches of activating sculptures by adorning them with ritually significant pigments, animal claws and other objects, Tayou has embellished these crystal sculptures with materials such as chocolate, feathers, medicinal herbs, water bottles and nylon stockings – a slightly irreverent mix of materials that simultaneously refers to traditional rituals and contemporary experience. This combination of the spiritual and the prosaic is a feature of Tayou’s work, much of which is carried out on a significantly larger scale than the Poupées (see, for example, Bend Skin Contrevents 2014 [Tate T15073]).
Tayou has made numerous examples of the Poupées in different sizes. The ones in Tate’s collection were created for an exhibition at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury in Côte d’Ivoire, from where the artist collected many of the adornments featured in the works. The Poupées Pascales are generally presented in groupings on individual plinths (either fairly traditional white plinths or rough-hewn tree stumps) at different heights.
Despite numerous references in his work to his country of origin, Cameroon, to the village where he was born, Nkongsamba, or to the cities where he currently lives, Ghent in Belgium and Yaoundé in Cameroon, Tayou’s interest in geography, provenance and mobility goes beyond a concern with identity. The critic Christine Antaya has described how ‘nomadism is central to the work of Pascale Marthine Tayou. Tayou’s notion of the artist as nomad is reminiscent of the Postmodernist sampler: he sees himself as a rolling stone, constantly in motion but, unlike the proverbial boulder, always accumulating parts of the places he passes through; never standing still yet productively gathering moss’.
(Christine Antaya, ‘Pascale Marthine Tayou: Always All Ways [Tous les chemins mènent à …]’, http://21cblog.com/nomadism-is-central-to-the-work-of-pascale-marthine-tayou-tayou/, frieze.com, 21 June 2010.)
Tayou works in a wide range of media, including photography, video, installation, performance, painting and drawing, as well as sculpture. Although his style varies enormously from work to work, his concern with history, post-colonialism and capitalism is constant. Arte povera, installation art, minimal art and traditional African art are all influences in his practice, this eclecticism being one of the essential characteristics of his output.
Jacob Fabricius, Thierry Raspail, Pernille Alberthsen and Bernad Blistène. Pascale Marthine Tayou, Always All Ways (Tous les chemins mènent à …), exhibition catalogue, MAC Lyon, February–May 2011.
Rebecca Lewin (ed.), Pascale Marthine Tayou: Boomerang, exhibition catalogue, Serpentine Galleries, London 2015.
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