Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark
The scenography that we designed for this exhibition focuses on the concept of reflexivity. The content of the exhibition, curated by the museum, focuses on six African cities, Lagos, Kinshasa, Maputo, Dakar, Johannesburg and Nairobi. In the context of a renewed interest in exhibitions on African architecture in Europe it is worth asking whether a bidirectional relationship of learning and entertainment is fostered in such displays. African scholars such as Chinua Achebe have argued that there has been a long relationship between Africa and Europe, where Africa has been a mirror for European self-definition.
In designing the scenography, the attempt was to make a space that bends back on itself; a space that confronts the viewer with his or her own gaze. In this exhibition, each city is contained in an interleading “cell”. By shaping a voided cell for each city, a scalloped solid form is left as residue. This form aims to subvert predetermined relationships between viewer and subject by inserting a void into the solid form which sets up confrontations with the other and the self.
The central void has an entrance which is articulated as a display box. In the entrance and on the balcony, the viewer is on display as much as the content of the exhibition is. In short, we gave the walls eyes. The balcony is in the wall facing the entrance into the gallery. The exhibition wall and balcony sets up an ambiguity; on the one hand it is a display surface, on the other hand it contains a gaze. People on the balcony will be looking at people who have just entered and see themselves reflected in a golden mirror wall facing them. The relationship between subject and object is inverted. This construct of reciprocal gazes is important in reflecting on the potential for an ‘us and them’reading of the African cities on display. The scenography creates a reflexive construct between content, others and the self.