Pélagie Gbaguidi

pencil and pastel on paper, ed. 1/5
h. 36,5 cm x b. 27,5 cm
2021 On long-term loan from the Flemish Community Collection

The work of Pélagie Gbaguidi (b. 1965, Dakar) focuses on colonial and post-colonial history. She describes herself as a contemporary ‘griot’. Traditionally this term alludes to a West-African storyteller who preserves oral histories and cultural traditions. She herself defines her role as a mediator between individual memories and the ancestral past. Gbaguidi’s works often allude to the overlooked stories which so-called official historiography tries to rid of simplifications, archetypes and even lies. The artist is active in diverse media, including painting, drawing, performance and installation.

The five drawings are part of a larger series with the overarching title Care (2020). Gbaguidi created the entire series on paper removed from the archive of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. More specifically, the works are made on pages of an encyclopaedia about the flora in the Congolese province of Katanga. The museum wished to dispose of the book. Gbaguidi recontextualises these apparently superfluous archive pieces by using them as the support for spontaneous, expressive and colourful drawings, made with dry pastel and pencil. With Care, Gbaguidi updates the debate around Belgium’s colonial past and subtly reveals the unequal balance of power that went hand in hand with this. For example it is clear that at the time, the botanical research in Congo was intended to increase Belgians’ knowledge and not that of the local population.

Collectionnumber : 7775

Works Pélagie Gbaguidi

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