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Indepth Arts News:

"Meschac Gaba - Museum of Contemporary African Art, The Library"
2001-02-25 until 2001-04-15
Witte de With Center for Contemportary Art
Rotterdam, , NL

n 1997, Meschac Gaba (Benin, 1961) launched the first sketches of his Museum of Contemporary African Art. The Museum provides an alternative to the colonial context in which western museums display African art. So far, Gaba has installed several museum departments, amongst others a play-room (SMAK, Ghent), a museum shop (Traffique, Ghent), a restaurant (W139, Amsterdam), the museum architecture (Gate Foundation, Amsterdam) and an audio room (Continental Shift, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht).

In Witte de With, Gaba will present the seventh chapter (out of twelve) of his project: the Museum Library. The Library, whose collection of books stems from donations by museums, art institutions and galleries, covers an entire floor at Witte de With, and incorporates a children's area, a curatorial section, and an interactive space. The exhibition will be accompanied by a monograph, entitled Library of the Museum: Museum of Contemporary African Art, published by Foundation Artimo with essays by, among others, Chris Dercon, Sebastian Lopéz and Anna Tilroe.

The idea for The Library is based on the working methods of aid organisations in African countries. On behalf of Gaba, Witte de With asked various art organizations which produce books to donate publications for his project.

As well as books, The Library contains objects with a symbolic value. Two of the six rooms are filled with huge books covered in collages of magazine articles. In one room a selection of catalogues is presented as if they were works of art: the books have signs giving the biographical details of the curators who put together the exhibition catalogues. There is also a children's department where educational art books in a small format can be studied. A room with three bicycles on which computers have been placed as a reference to the move from the printed to the digital word. One of the computers presents an extensive list of websites of cultural institutions located in Africa, or referring to African Art. A movable coffin, finally, contains the voice of a storyteller who stands for the old African saying, 'When someone dies, a library is lost.'

Meschac Gaba
Salle de Jeux du Musée d’Art Contemporain Africain
Stedelijk Museum Actuele Kunst, Gent

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