Born in 1942, Cotonou, Benin – Lives in Cotonou
In 1971, Georges Adéagbo made his first “ephemeral installations,” inspired by his urgent desire to escape the solitude in which he found himself engulfed at the time: “The only means of communication that I had with my family and friends were these small, handwritten notes, which I arranged on the ground, accompanied by objects that I found on my walks,” he said in 1995. Adéagbo assembled collections of objects on the floor of his room, then in his courtyard. In proliferating these personal altars doomed to dispersal upon completion, the artist honed the principle of ephemeral and improvised assembly that animates his work to this day. Books, disks, postcards, newspapers, fabrics, sculptures, tree branches, stones, etc.— Adéagbo structures these ephemera, the material evidence of our age, in accordance with an organizing principle of his own design. His installations start out by conforming to a symmetry that then falls away as a collection becomes denser and further extends itself up the walls. In Adéagbo’s bazaars of meaning and form, networks of relations emerge through a combination of improvisation and recapitulation of recurrent themes; in each installation, historical and cultural references intermix with autobiographical experiences in the context of the exhibition.
Georges Adéagbo simultaneously plays the parts of collector, curator, and ethnologist. However, in bringing together the various methods pertaining to each, he invents a unique artistic persona all his own: that of witness-collector-assembler-observer. Adéagbo does not collect objects in the spirit of conservation. Rather, he gathers them together to form a collection of fragments, devoted to an ephemeral order. Following his own creative chain of associations, Adéagbo investigates the social and cultural charges of objects and their circulation, privileging worn out goods that have entered the final phase of the capitalist cycle of production. Adégabo has used his hybrid method to survey diverse territories, including his native Benin and the other countries in which he has exhibited his work. Here, as in all of his ephemeral installations, Adégabo provides the viewer with indices for the subterranean relations that govern his altars to the social and spiritual life of objects.