Pélagie Gbaguidi

Echo museum – the archive body
Pélagie Gbaguidi (Belgium / Benin)

Echo museum – the archive bode is an experimental and inclusive approach conceived as a material and immaterial receptacle of conversations, exchanges, life stories and sharing of knowledge collected during a residency conducted by Pélagie Gbaguidi in Lubumbashi in 2019. This experience lived as a cartography located, intends to be the ground of a reflection on the problems discussed during the meetings made during his stay. The installation Zone de tissage invites masks, objects, anti-pollution textiles designed with the textile designer Nila Lila, including glasses, canvases and embroidery, which are as many media intended to resonate with sensitive situations and local communities, including the urgency of starting a decolonial ecology. In a context of environmental and metaphorical pollution, injuries in the body and mobilization of survival strategies, Gbaguidi has tried to give human form to various tragedies that affected it. Udji Kinge is a video about performances in ore quarries, intended to reveal psychological spaces affected by social and political issues.

Born in 1965 in Dakar and originally from Benin, Pélagie Gbaguidi lives and works in Brussels. She calls herself a contemporary “Griot”. A “Griot” questions the individual as he or she moves through life by absorbing the words of the ancients and modeling them like a ball of fat that he or she places in the stomach of each passer-by with the ingredients of the day. In the practical sense, it breaks the commonplace rhythm by inserting subtle incidents integrating its part of eternity. Her work is an anthology of signs and traces on the trauma. In fact, it is one of her recurrent subjects, evidenced by the acquisition of 100 drawings of the Code Noir (1685) series at the Memorial Act in Guadeloupe. Her focus of interest is centered on the colonial and postcolonial archives and on the unmasking of the process of forgetting in history. This readjustment of the imaginary arouses in the artist the urgency to give it form, a writing of liberating images and a corpus to draw contemporary forms.

Pélagie Gbaguidi has participated in numerous international exhibitions such as the Biennale of Dakar (2004, 2006, 2008, 2014, 2018),“Asyl Stadtmuseum”, Stadtmuseum, Munich in 2013, “Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory Revisited by Contemporary African Artists”, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt in 2014 and at the National Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institution, Washington in 2015,“El Iris de Lucy”, Musac, Castilla y León, “L’iris de Lucy”, Musée Rouchechouart, “El iris de Lucy” CAAM in 2017, “Afriques Capitales” Gare de Saint Sauveur Lille in 2017, “The Beauty of the Difference” Palace of Lieberose, Brandenburg in 2017.

More recently, she took part in the last documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel and contributed in the publication “Why Are We ‘Artists’?” 100 World Art Manifestos from Jessica Lack. In October 2018, she received a scholarship from Civitella Ranieri Foundation. In 2019, she participated in the exhibitions “Decolonizing the Body” at the Eternal Network Gallery in Tours and “Multiple Transmissions: Art in the Afropolitan Age” at WIELS in Brussels.


© Marco Giugliarelli Civitella Ranieri, 2018