O P E N
S T O R A G E
PASCALE MARTHINE TAYOU
b. 1966, Cameroon
Crystal, metal rings, plastic pearls, thread, anklets, raffia, broom hairs
29.125 x 12.25 x 12.25 in.
Collection of Cathy and Paolo Vedovi
Much of Pascale Marthine Tayou’s itinerant practice involves a core resistance to identification and definition, beginning from the transformation of his name (a combination of his mother and father’s names) to create a feminized persona, and continuing with his treatment of materials and forms within his work in which he sets out to subvert and transmute narratives. Through the context of existing social, cultural, and political structures, Tayou’s creations both mediate between cultures and question the frameworks in which they exist.
Utilizing crates used to transport them as pedestals, the crystalline Poupée reference mystical African objects, called nkisi, which were regarded as objects with hidden, living, healing power, usually constructed of opaque materials like wood. The nkisi were principally vessels, whose medicinal and spiritual contents could help manifest outcomes desired by their owners.
The Poupée Pascale are created from clear Venetian crystal, making visible the hidden materials, and externalizing them on the form. The adornments are found materials like human hair, nylon stocking, metal forks and raffia, which along with the names of the works (Alice, Fabrizio, Rossella), allude to their totemic, portrait-like nature. Tayou refers to the process of imparting aesthetic life or “breath” to his artworks as “the voodooization of everyday life.” Like the nkisi owner, Tayou performs and acknowledges a type of artistic mysticism that directs power and commerce within our lives and the art market.