Magazine article Artforum International

Georges Adeagbo: Fondazione Querini Stampalia

Magazine article Artforum International

Georges Adeagbo: Fondazione Querini Stampalia

Article excerpt

A translation can reveal latent significance in the original text, as it is recontextualized for the specific cultural conditions of the secondary language; translation is a form of rewriting. The site-specific installation La rencontre ...! Venise--Florence ...! (The Encounter ...! Venice--Florence ...!), 2007, which Georges Adeagbo created for the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice, was developed as a rewriting of the historical objects preserved in this sixteenth-century house museum: a collection of furniture, furnishings, and musical instruments, predominantly from the eighteenth century, and paintings on canvas that date from the fourteenth century to the nineteenth. In keeping with his specific practice, based on the readymade and on assemblage, the Benin-based artist intervened in the museum's rooms, altering the presentation of the collection by interleaving it with books, photographs, and various objects such as videocassettes, African masks, fabrics, and carved images.

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A wooden mask appeared at the center of the room of seventeenth-century portraits; a small percussion instrument complemented an old piano, which in turn supported a child's colored plastic player piano. In the room containing eighteenth-century views by Gabriel Bella, documenting Venetian life of the day, strings of colored beads hung down from the ceiling, echoing the verticality of certain elements in the paintings, while on the floor, piles of newspapers of various nationalities presented fragments of contemporary news events. Along with interspersing these found objects with the collection, Adeagbo asked two fellow Benin artists--Eli Adanhoume, a painter, and Hugues Hountoudji, a sculptor--to reinterpret some of the museum's paintings of sacred subjects. For example, Adanhoume reproposed Giovanni Bellini's Presentation in the Temple, 1469, in miniature format; positioned on the floor, it leaned against an ancient table, while the original hung in another room. …

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