Meschac Gaba (Benin, born 1961)
banknotes, paper and wood
121 x 121cm (47 5/8 x 47 5/8in).
Private collection, Netherlands.
For Gaba, the wheelbarrow is an object of symbolic importance. In 2014, the artist exhibited a wall-mounted coin bank in the shape of a stylised barrow entitled Bankivi: Workers' Bank at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, USA. The title of the work emphasizes that this is a savings account, not a donations box. It communicates Gaba's belief that individual contribution and collective investment are of greater benefit to the developing world than isolated acts of charity.
The present lot has been wrapped in decommissioned Central African franc banknotes; a stark visual reminder that the current institutions need reform.
The global economy and economic exchange between Africa and the West has preoccupied Gaba since the late 1990's. Born in Cotonou, Benin, but raised in the Netherlands, the artist has a foot in both camps. His dual identity caused him to question the the relationship between the 'first' and 'third' world, and consider how the existing systems might be restructured.
The wheelbarrow 'banks' encourage us to engage with the problem of Africa's struggling economies at a personal level. In choosing to deposit a coin, the visitor is indicating their support for international collaboration.
Since completing his studies at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, Meschac Gaba has exhibited at numerous international fairs such as the 50th Venice Biennial in 2003 and Documenta 11 in 2002. Tate Modern in London acquired a major installation in 2013, entitled Museum of Contemporary African Art. He is now a household name across the world.