Once upon a time, hypocrisy and the history of the hypocrites...!
- Artist: Georges Adéagbo
- Creation date: 2009
- Object type: Installation
In Georges Adéagbo’s installation, commissioned for an exhibition in the National Museum in 2008, he underlines interconnected histories in the cultures of Norway and Benin, more specifically the city Cotonou.
It is an exercise in cultural translation and reciprocity. The first four words of the title reference the past and are common to every fairytale. The contemporary art museum building was the former Norwegian Central- Bank and Adéagbo used this as one starting point. Another is his broad view of Norwegian social history and the change from a feudal monarchy, to a social democracy with a titular monarch. To him, national banks symbolise capitalism, accumulated, 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 material which constitutes the work was gathered on Adéagbo’s research visit to Norway in 2007. He purchased the material from flea markets and bookstores and documented popular culture and heritage sites. On his return, to Cotonou, he reworked the found imagery into paintings or sculptures that he commissioned local artists to make. The mixing of bric-a-brac alongside high culture from both African and European environments, shape his new post-colonial narrative. It recodes history and connects ideas about human interrelationships. The gallery becomes an African market place, a site of cultural and economic exchange.