Collections and research

Absolute Installation

Georges Adéagbo

Commissioned for the exhibition “Hypocrisy the Site Specificity of Morality” at the National Museum in 2009, Adéagbo’s installation "Once upon a time, hypocrisy and the history of the hypocrites..!" takes its inspiration from that exhibition’s title.

© George Adéagbo, Once upon a time, hypocrisy and the history of the hypocrites..!, 2008-2009, installation

His work is an exercise in cultural translation that underlines the interconnectedness of histories and the reciprocity between cultures. The title opens a visual narrative about places and contested histories.

The contemporary art museum’s location in the former Norwegian National Bank helped to determine the perspectives Adéagbo draws and the scope of the visual elements he has included. Banks are symbolic for capitalism and for the accumulation of personal and national wealth. Similar to museums they are mimetic signs for collecting and consumption. But they are in equal measure about the squandering of wealth, the exploitation of others and the societal effects of self indulgent greed. The social structure of most European nations are determined by accumulated wealth. Adéagbo’s mixture of textual fragments, photocopies, books, magazines, paintings and other materials, inform on poverty and wealth, as well as many others issues. Much of the installation material Adéagbo gathered on a research visit to Norway in 2007. He documented elements from Norwegian popular culture and heritage sites, and libraries. He purchased resource material from flea-markets which on his return, home to Cotonou Benin, were reworked into paintings or sculptures by artist Adéagbo commissioned. The mixing of materials from African and European environments, shape new post-colonial narratives that recode history and connect ideas about human interrelationships. Bric-á-brac alongside high culture and the mixture of text and image material create a site of cultural and economic exchange. It transforms the gallery into an African market place.

Georges Adéagbo was born in 1942 in Cotonou in Benin. He lives and works in Cotonou.


Gavin Jantjes