Meschac GabaArchitecture Room

Meschac Gaba
Architecture Room
From Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997–2002
Installation at Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, 29 August – 15 November 2009
Photo: Nils Klinger  © Meschac Gaba

After testing his ideas for the Museum of Contemporary African Art in the Draft Room, Gaba’s next logical step was to consider the architecture. In this room visitors are encouraged to propose their own architectural structures using the wooden building blocks on the blue carpet. The models are constantly in flux, being adapted, demolished, redesigned and rebuilt.

Gaba’s Museum does not have a permanent building; rather it has temporarily occupied many institutions around the world, from Milwaukee to Accra and São Paulo to Paris. The ladder in the Architecture Room, which was empty when this room was first exhibited, has acted as a barometer of the project’s success. The colourful Plexiglas treads were added one at a time, each inscribed with the name of the curator and organisation that hosted the project until 2002 when the Museum of Contemporary African Art was officially completed and the ladder was full.

The Artist’s Bank, a wooden desk with a glass top, contains banknotes designed with symbols of art and architecture. In the same room, fabricated banknotes with portraits of European artists who were inspired by African art hang from the branches of the Money Tree. Amongst others, Picasso is presented in the guise of the president of Ghana and Brancusi as a general with a white beard. This work acknowledges the importance of African art in the development of the Western canon, but also affirms the right of artists, irrespective of their origin, to draw inspiration from anywhere.