Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Meschac Gaba


“Yes, one could quite easily argue that Meschac Gaba uses money as a means to discuss colonialism. The banknotes and coins that he transforms are late witnesses of that era, the language in which they are coined still being French. But years after that determined opening statement in his own book (“I use money because I refuse to use the word colonialism.” ed.), he still insisted: “Colonialism is en vogue in Europe, not in Africa”. And: “It is dangerous to write too much about it. In Africa we think about development. Let’s imagine a world without colonialism.” 4

An intriguing quote out of the essay of Daphne Pappers on the work Meschac Gaba, an artist from Benin, living and working in Rotterdam and Benin.



The artistic universe of Meschac Gaba


Now that the Tate Modern acquired his Museum of Contemporary African Art, Meschac Gaba seems to have been embraced into the contemporary art canon once and for all. As an established artist, he returns to his home country Benin to enrich Cotonou with the ‘Musée de la Vie Active’. Various projects take place like a manned library in his house, residencies, etc. The present artistic concept, called ‘UNITÉ’, consists of a program of lectures and workshops with international artists.

No matter how determined Gaba’s refusal to speak about colonialism, the art system still tends to categorize his art within that framework. As early as 2001, he made a crystal clear opening statement in the ‘Library of the Museum’ 2: “I use money, because I refuse to use the word colonialism.” The valuation system of money is continuously challenged by this artist. Before his Rijksakademie residency in 1997 and 1998, money as a physical object already was present in his assemblages. Later he turned devaluated banknotes of the Central Bank of the States of West Africa into confetti. The confetti was glued on all kinds of everyday objects. African devaluated coins glued to a simple ring, became desirable jewelry. Banknotes were transformed, by replacing the faces of the usual presidents by the artist’s, his fellows’, Picasso’s, or else his hair sculptures ‘Tresses’, and called them ‘Artist with American (or African) inspiration’. He also mounted the confetti on safety pins as a service in return for people becoming sponsors of his Museum of Contemporary African Art.


Architecture Room (detail), from Museum of Contemporary African Art, 1997-2002, photo Gert Jan van Rooij.


Devaluated money, taken out of the financial circulation, is reinserted in society in this artistic practice. And of course, Gaba resells devaluated coins and parts of banknotes with profit. Besides having physically incorporated money in art objects, Gaba created games in which money plays a central part. In 2002, he invited his visitors in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris to play his versions of the ‘Game of Draughts’ and the popular African game ‘Adji’. Both games are played with money 3. Just to raise a few economic and sociologic questions provoked by these artistic actions: How is money valued in different parts of the world? Now and in the past? And how does money operate in the art world? How does Gaba´s art act upon the dichotomous concepts of the West and the Rest? Is it capable of uniting them?

Yes, one could quite easily argue that Meschac Gaba uses money as a means to discuss colonialism. The banknotes and coins that he transforms are late witnesses of that era, the language in which they are coined still being French. But years after that determined opening statement in his own book, he still insisted: “Colonialism is en vogue in Europe, not in Africa”. And: “It is dangerous to write too much about it. In Africa we think about development. Let’s imagine a world without colonialism.” 4

Utopia versus ethno-labeling

Let’s accept the invitation of Gaba’s art to a way of thinking beyond obvious interpretations and experiment with the possibilities that offers. That is what curator Claudia Banz did when she invited Meschac Gaba to conceive the scenography of ‘Happiness, which Happiness?’, an exhibition on the theme of happiness in the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden (Germany, 2008). This interdisciplinary research of seven approaches of happiness was hosted in as many museum rooms. Banz had selected Gaba for the job, based on his large scale project of the Museum of Contemporary African Art, consisting of twelve spaces (1997-2002). 5 Nevertheless, in Gaba’s case, being invited for being an artist tout court, is not that evident. His name often features in large, international exhibitions dealing with post- or neocolonial themes, like ‘A Voyage between Cultures’, (Continental Shift, 2000), ‘Zones of contact’ (Sydney Biennial, 2006) or ‘We Face Forward’ (Manchester Art Gallery, 2012). This kind of categorizing incorporates an act of separation, hierarchy, differentiation. And, as a consequence, critics take the same perspective in their reviews.


Sweetness, 2006, courtesy Lumen Travo Gallery Amsterdam, copyright Gaba.


Gaba´s installation entitled ‘Sweetness’ for instance, was made for the Biennial in Saõ Paulo in 2006. It is a huge fantasy city scape in miniature, entirely in white, because of the sugar cubes it is made of. On a surface of some fifty square meters, Gaba assembled numerous iconic architectural monuments from all over the world. The connection of cultural icons on a scale that one can grasp at a single glance, conjures up the idea of the global village. The commonplace that sugar is liked by people all over the globe, acquires a new sense in this work of art. However, in reviews and comments on ‘Sweetness’, words like colonialism, slavery and allusions to those themes, pop up. Even the information given by the Biennial organization is drenched with clear reminiscents of that history: “The work unites three points in history: the artist, like the slaves in sugarcane plantations, came from Africa, lives in the Netherlands, the country that colonized the region, and now works in Recife, the city that harbors all these influences.” 6 His gallery Continúa in Milan, admittedly, covered it more softly in a press release, but still remains within oppositional parameters and points to controversy: “Though apparently light-hearted, his artistic practice throws light on a number of fundamental and controversial issues concerning different modes of coexisting and constructing shared spaces, the aim being to find the ethical sense of collective life.” 7

Apparently the beholder’s eye, even the professional one, is forced into this one particular direction. As a consequence, readers are informed in the same way. A quote of the artist himself offers an alternative viewing: “It is not about slavery, it is a positive piece. Sugar is an international symbol, it is consumed everywhere, and sweets and sweetness bring people together.” 8 Viewed this way, ´Sweetness´ rather relates to the dream of Utopia. How to consider its material ephemerity, remains to be answered, or not. Actually its materiality contrasts interestingly with another of Gaba´s utopian projects, the ‘Museum for Contemporary African Art’.

The making of differentiation

Gaba’s artistic agenda, constituted by humanity, coincides with international political hot topics. Topics that are adopted by art curators around the world. In the interview “Translating the world into softness”, curator Joost Bosland asked Gaba: “The contemporary African art that is seen internationally is often topical, and often deals with the continent’s problems – war, disease, poverty, racism. Is it a conscious strategy for you to oppose this trend? Gaba replied: “That is a curatorial issue. When someone visits an artist’s studio, they can find whatever they are looking for. If you are looking for heavy statements, you will find heavy statements. If you are looking for happiness, you can find happiness.” 9

Meschac Gaba - Museum of Contemporary African Art & More,  Kunsthalle Fridericianum / Kassel / 2009







Salon, from Museum of Contemporary African Art, 1997-2002, copyright Gaba/Tate, photo Gert Jan van Rooij.


The historic intertwining of politics and the ‘exhibitionary complex’ is thoroughly described by Tony Bennett 10, connecting twentieth century World Fairs to the rhetorics of power wishing to represent Otherness in an educative setting. By encouraging all social classes to visit the Fairs, power institutions created complicity on all levels of European society. Both Europeans and colonized peoples were made to believe in separated worlds. Despite the evident shift from exhibiting in the anthropological manner in colonial times to contemporary show cases, the asymmetry of those days is still felt at present. Contemporary art exhibitions in the West that include work by artists from outside the Euramerican region, based on the geographic, nationalist, regional criterium still outnumber those based on conceptual or even thematic ideas. After all, why did Strasbourg so recently set up a Voodoo museum, dedicated to African Voodoo objects? Contemporary African artists are called to reflect on the collection. Differentiation still haunts the exhibitionary complex, but to what use?

As a result of this history in politics, art history today lacks a suitable vocabulary to do full justice to the layered imagery of Meschac Gaba and other, intercontinental artists with roots in ‘southern’ regions. Art historians, as all academics, are traditionally trained to reach full understanding and complete interpretation of their objects of research: an art work has to fit perfectly in the context in which it came into being, its symbols being there to be decrypted. This desire leaves hardly any space for a multilayered art work to reveal its invitation to a way of thinking. Considering Gaba’s best known project, the above mentioned Museum of Contemporary African Art (MCAA), in the traditional art historian way, one will get into trouble, because, as Carlos Basualdo closes his description of the MCAA in the framework of Documenta 11: “Complementary fragments that do not add up to a whole, the sections of the “Gaba Museum” testify to the fragmentation of the very reality to which they allude.” 11 Accepting the Museum’s invitation to think however, one immediately feels the independent spirit behind this concept: the mental freedom of creating a museum without walls, hosted by all kinds of art institutions in different countries, as an exercise in the contemplation of what the museum possibly is, what art can be, and life. The museum finally consists of twelve rooms, the first of which is the ‘Draft Room’, presented in 1997 at the Open Studios at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. Five years later, the project culminated into the ‘Humanist Space’, at the occasion of Documenta 11.

Bearing in mind Bennett’s historic line of thought, the recent past still clearly marks the origin of the making of Otherness. As for the classic key exhibition ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ (Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1989), the curatorial logic stayed within the lines. According to Gaba’s personal experience: “[At that time I made] paintings of daily life, featuring cars, planes, Christs, things like that. … Banks bought them, and the rich Beninois, but not the expatriates you see, because my painting was like that of Pollock. … too European [for Magiciens de la Terre].” Being asked if he agrees with that: “Yes, but I don’t like it. I was born in a city and I honestly don’t know the traditional art of Benin… On the contrary, I am a painter.” 12 The contrary of the historic fact that Picasso c.s. had been acclaimed for borrowing from African art is being produced here. Almost a century later, a painter like Gaba was implicitly accused of imitation. The image of the homogenic Other 13 proved to be alive and kicking in the curator’s mind by the end of the 1980s: an African artist should make African-looking art. And this is too often still the case. Although the Centre Pompidou hosted an exhibition of art from different continents, the selection should remain in the western logic: any African artist working in a European fashion cannot fit in. Center remained center and periphery remained periphery.








Museum Shop, from Museum of Contemporary African Art, 1997-2002, photo Gert Jan van Rooij.

Until today, from a predominantly western perspective and fuelled by geographically colored political sensitivity, definition discussions have been held over and over. Though maybe necessary, these discussions have not yet proven to be neither productive nor satisfying. Instead, they have resulted in a sheer endless list of terms, mostly borrowed from sociology, like black, exotic, primitive, to which hybrid, multi-cultural, and metissage were added later, and, more recently, trans-cultural, and non-western. In short, they keep reacting to each other and thus stay within oppositional paradigms.

Art as a playful doubling of reality

A macro insight in the operation of this seeming deadlock of perspectives, on the level of the present societal system i.e. the art world, can be found in Kitty Zijlmans’ contribution to ‘World Art Studies: Exploring Concepts and Approaches’. 14 In order to grasp the functioning of the globalizing art system, she evokes the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. In ‘Art as a Social System’ (2000) he considers modern society as a complex of differentiated functional systems, as economy, law, politics, religion, and art. Zijlmans’ paraphrase: “The art system is seen by Luhmann as a specific social system because it operates on the basis of a specific coded communication which cannot be taken over by any of the other social systems. … The code which governs the art system is the binary opposition of ‘beautiful/ugly’. … It is a set of positions in which the one ‘side’ (beautiful) means that the utterance is successful for the art system, and the other (ugly) means that it has failed for the art system. … The system operates in a highly contingent way.” 15 Zijlmans then conjures up fields of tension between dependence on its environment and autonomy of the art system. Bearing the above description of the exhibitionary complex in mind, one may assume that political strategies have influenced the making of the distinction between beautiful and ugly. Zijlmans refers to this dependence by paraphrasing Luhmann: despite the high degree of self-regulation of the art system and the other systems, there is interconnectedness between art and other systems. 16 In various countries the art system still partly depends on politics for its funding. Western nations have to cope with huge social problems, trying to manage their colored, allochtonous, their ‘other‘ populations. New, non-linear museum collection presentations, like at the Museo Reina Sofía and Centre Pompidou, reflect on these delicate issues in a positive way.

Further on, Zijlmans observes the simultaneous autonomy of the art system: “In a way the art system is surprisingly isolated from other functional systems, and this might explain why modern art is capable of developing a symbolization of fundamental social problems of modern society: Art is a ‘playful’ doubling of reality.” 17 The power of the artistic spirit, to distance itself from the here and now and being there at once, is the only plausible reason to this, self-chosen, isolation. As art is functioning in splendid isolation, the artist is considered as a jester, and not much harm can be done, politicians must think. Finally, Kitty Zijlmans points at art history as the self-descriptive, observing agency of the workings of the system. It is reactive to art works that continuously challenge “the boundaries of the tolerable as well as current [read: Western] systems of valuation criteria”. 18











Game Room, from Museum of Contemporary African Art, 1997-2002, photo Nils Klinger, copyright Tate/Gaba.

How does Gaba’s work position itself in this web of codes, dependence, autonomy, and self-observation? He is a master at challenging art history and critic that has to find a proper way to respond to his tickling of usual boundaries and codes. What is beautiful (successful, high art, center) and what is ugly (failure, popular culture, periphery), is mixed up in Gaba’s universe. He presents African wigs as conceptual art objects, calling them hair sculptures. His game with art’s usual dependence on the political system was turned upside down by his way of raisings funds for his MCAA. Although criticized by some, the sale of his museum to the Tate Modern in 2013 fits perfectly in his rules challenging game.

Nothing could better characterize the work of Meschac Gaba than ‘a ‘playful’ doubling of reality’. His museum without walls does not fit in the usual art system’s framework of representation. The ‘Museum Restaurant’ (1999) and the ‘Marriage Room’ (2001) (both MCAA) are so close to reality that one can hardly claim they represent reality: for one week in June 1999, the artist performed as a cook and, assisted by fellow artists from different horizons, served meals for guests in his ‘Museum Restaurant’, firstly hosted by the artist collective W139 in Amsterdam, later reproduced in other places. What can be more real than food and eating it? The same goes for the artist’s marriage that took place in the ‘Marriage Room’, situated in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, where the respective families were gathered and speeches were held by prominent Dutch art personalities. In both cases, there wasn’t even a thin line between reality and representation, they coalesced.

Overruling dichotomy

Another perspective on the mechanism of inclusion and exclusion was put forward by Julia Kristeva in ‘Strangers to ourselves’ (1988). While Zijlmans and Luhmann analyze the workings of the mechanism in the contemporary art system on a macro scale, Kristeva, drawing lessons from Freud, operates on a micro scale. As a French citizen, originally from Bulgaria, the writer-philosopher zooms in on the history of the position of the foreigner in western society. She explores how identification with the stranger in ourselves leads to a rapprochement to the stranger in the streets. Assuming that the created opposition on the macro-level has its effect on the micro level, the Self-Other paradigm is maintained. An art object, “an aesthetic experience”, communicates on a face to face level with its beholder. It is a ‘fictional’ one on one exchange. The act of wearing a ring or a button made by Meschac Gaba, incorporates this relationship the most intimately as possible. Solving his ‘Puzzle Tables’, or playing his ‘Roulette’, involves the beholder in again another way. The artists’ quest for the beholder to physically or intellectually participate in his art works, successfully overrules the dichotomy.

The visual information that they convey, contains recognizable elements to both extremes of the poles ‘Other’ and ‘Self’. Thus, the images become hyphens between the realms of thought of historically opposed worlds. Provoking hyphens, playful ones, or sensitive, they potentially bridge old mental gaps. Traditionally disconnected unities find themselves linked by an image that tells its story. In the triangle model, Other and Self are indirectly linked by a sign. 20 It makes one become aware of the obvious patterns that pop up automatically when looking at art by, let’s say an African artist. In order to get rid of the instant reception stirred up by worn-out expectations, I propose a reading of a few of Gaba’s works as an exercise in four steps.

Practicing the triangle model

First, the activity of the art work as a hyphen between Other and Self has to be localized. Secondly, the viewer becomes aware of the reason behind this link. Consequently, he has to accept the work’s invitation to think and let the openness of the work freely conjure up questions, ignoring obvious patterns. At last, returning to cliché interpretations can be worthwhile to find out if they could add useful insights. After all, there is no need to deny the work’s Africanness.

In order to experience the triangle model, let us take a close look at the ‘African Bakery’ (2004). The title is as real as the work itself. Unlike the expectation induced by the title, the (re)presented bakery produces typically French bread, the ´baguette´. Firstly, the viewer recognizes the fact that this kind of bread is produced, sold and eaten in Africa, which may not be common knowledge outside of Africa, although any European recognizes the bread as being a French bread. This knowledge is the active field of the hyphen between Other and Self, depending of the reader’s perspective (I as a writer, defined by my European identity, represent the second category). Secondly, the reason why Africans eat this kind of bread is a historically defined and a political one. The art work operates as an information channel between the two continents, between the poles of Other and Self. As such, it is bringing two worlds together in present reality, one could say. Now, to which insights the ‘African Bakery’ could lead us? It was presented in various ways so far. In the travelling exhibition ‘Africa Remix’, the visitor was presented with a video showing the baking process of the ‘baguettes’, flanked by some shelves with breads in clay, presented as ´bijoux´. The video simply shows this process, as close to reality as possible, including the kneading of the dough, the shaping of the rolls, the rising of the breads and the putting in baskets. By highlighting a hyper-daily phenomenon, Gaba plays a double game: he does his job as an artist, by “taking the ordinary and making it extra-ordinary” (his version of the objet trouvé) 21, showing the result in an art context, and at the same time he acts as an anthropologist or sociologist by returning or re-exporting found images of a human phenomenon, back to far away countries of origin (seen from the Self perspective). For the exhibition ´Respect!´ (Morocco, 2005), the bakery shop was represented, in a white cube, displaying clay breads painted in various colors, placed on shelves and in simple counters of glass and wood. The daily aspect of the breads transforms in this alienated presentation: are the counters actually shop furniture or rather museum showcases? The gold, white, yellow, and purple baguettes become objects, of art! Finally, returning to the obvious observation that this work criticizes colonialism, let me refer to two fragments of an analysis by Ben Borthwicks, published online by Tate Modern: “The baguette has become entirely naturalized as part of the food culture of Benin, the Francophone nation where Gaba grew up, in spite of the fact that Benin does not grow wheat. The mundane loaf of bread, therefore, takes its place as a vestige of European colonialism. … Gaba’s installation can be seen as a way of turning the tables on the numerous European museums crammed with African cultural treasures. Instead of being stand-alone sculptural objects, most of the African artefacts that populate Western museums once played an integrated role in everyday life. It is in the same spirit that Gaba subjects the baguette, that definitive symbol of French life, to the rarefied conventions of museum display.” 22








Religion Room, from Museum of Contemporary African Art, 1997-2002, copyright Gaba/Tate, photo Nils Klinger.


Although even in this analysis the extremes of Other and Self are still instrumentalised, phrases like “a vestige of European colonialism” and “Gaba subjects the baguette”, immediately draw the reader into an aggressive post-colonial, bipolar reading of the ‘African Bakery’. This art work rather deserves to be read as a playful and intelligent turning around codes like a Duchamp, than Borthwicks heavily charged analysis.

MG_School Bus               Tresses (School Bus), 2004, courtesy Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, copyright Gaba.

‘Tresses’ (2004 onwards) serves as a second example of the triangle model in action. ‘Tresses’ (French for wigs) is a series of a few dozens of colorful hair sculptures in the shape of architectural monuments of major cities around the globe. Here, the first step is to recognize that this tradition of wig production originates from Africa, Benin to be more precise. The architectural tradition technically originates from the West, also for the majority of the monuments from outside the Euramerican region. This knowledge is the active field of the hyphen between Other and Self. The viewer now becomes aware of the intercultural realm of the work. Besides colorful, the appearance of the ‘Tresses’ is very stylish because of the dominance of the shapes. It is only at second glance that the used technique reveals itself. The production of the sculptures takes place in Benin. Local craftswomen do their job the traditional way, but for contemporary art purposes in this case. Being exported, their skills gain a worldwide reputation. Gaba takes on another role again: as a promoter of popular culture. Hairdo is a lively culture amongst Africans, on and outside of the continent. To visualize this social culture as anonymous architecture, despite the difference in material and in scale, turns out to be a powerful discovery of the artists’ eye. By way of performances, the ‘Tresses’ were worn on peoples’ heads in European as well as African streets. Reviewing the contrast in materiality between ‘Sweetness’ and the MCAA, one can see a clear parallel between the ‘Tresses’ and ‘Sweetness’: both reduce high rise and impressive architecture to a human scale.

When reading an anonymous review on the Iniva website, the reader is confronted with the old manipulation of perspective: “The skyscrapers in Tresses combine fantasies of Western “power of capital” with African inspired cultural practices of hair braiding suggesting the hidden connections between global economic operations and “third-world” manual labor. Nevertheless, the works have a celebratory feel which is amplified through their presentation as performances. Worn by people from wide range of ages and backgrounds the fantasies of globalization are re-focused onto public, the individuals who shape as well as are shaped by these images.” 23 This time, one notices clauses like “power of capital”, and “suggesting the hidden connections between global economic operations and “third-world” manual labor”. Although the impression of the old dichotomy is followed by a contrasting, positive remark mentioning the “celebratory feel” of the performances, this effort fails to rebalance the message of the comment as a whole. Paraphrasing Gaba´s words once more: shouldn´t we look with love at the world?








Music Room, from Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997-2002, Kunsthalle Fredericianum 2009.

Celebrating humanity

Meschac Gaba’s oeuvre playfully occupies an independent, active and constructive position between oppositions. It renegotiates conditioned mental spaces, inviting new thoughts to replace old and outdated ones. Grand narratives of humanity are put forward, in symbolic languages. The viewer encounters a wide range of well chosen (re)presentations of human production and activities. And like in real life, there are people participating. The ultimate witness that reminds us that these phenomena are not reality is the art(ificial) context in which they are presented to the world. At least … not counting his wedding and the ‘Tresses’ performances. The artist himself takes on a variety of roles, as we have seen: architect, peace messenger, cook, referee, curator, anthropologist, etc.

The stories are visualized by way of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Meschac Gaba celebrates the ordinary, daily life, reality. He celebrates craftsmanship, found objects, and without hesitation he inserts them in their new, transformed shape into the world.





1. Interview by the author, 2008

2. ‘Chris Dercon talks to Meschac Gaba’, in: Library of the Museum, Vol.1,  Artimo Foundation, Amsterdam, p. 15.

3. The Adji game can be found online:

4. Interview by the author, 2008.

5. See for a presentation of the concept and all of the rooms.

6. Unfortunately the full text of the press release is no longer available online. Former url:

7. See for the full text of the press release

8. Vicky Anderson, ‘Sweet dreams on show’, former url:

9. Joost Bosland, ‘Translating the world into softness’, in tresses + other recent projects, p. 33.

10. Tony Bennett, ‘The Exhibitionary Complex’, in Thinking about exhibitions, eds Reesa Greenberg, Bruce W. Ferguson, and Sandy Nairne, Routledge London, 1996, p. 82-109.

11. Carlos Basualdo about Meschac Gaba, in: Documenta 11_ Platform 5: Exhibition, Short Guide, Hatje Canz Publishers, 2002, p. 80.

12. Interview by the author, 2008.

13. Edward W. Said, Orientalism, Penguin Books, London, 2003, p. 7: “Orientalism is never far from what Denys Hay has called the idea of Europe, a collective notion identifying ”us” Europeans as against all “those” non-Europeans.”

14. Kitty Zijlmans, ‘The Discourse on Contemporary Art and the Globalization of the Art System’, in: World Art Studies, Exploring Concepts and Approaches, eds K. Zijlmans and W. van Damme, Valiz, Amsterdam, 2008.

15. Ibid, p. 141.

16. Ibid, p. 142.

17. Ibid, p. 146.

18. Ibid, p. 147. After all, the distinction between autonomy and dependence seems to apply more aptly to the distinction between respectively art production and art system (referring to its organization as well as art history), than to art system (including art production) and art history, as Zijlmans put it. In any case, the example is productive because it shows that the different degrees of autonomy and dependence, internal and external, encourage the art system (including art history) to start drawing lessons from outside the system, that is from sociology, philosophy, anthropology and so forth.

19. Daphne Pappers, ‘Spies in the 16th Arrondissement – Myriam Mihindou exhibits at the Musée Dapper in Paris’, in Transcultural Modernities, Narrating Africa in Europe, ed. E. Beekers, S. Helff and D. Merolla, Matatu, Journal for African Culture and Society, Rodopi, Amsterdam/New York, 2009, p. 259-260. ‘Drawing on Freud’s essay “Das Unheimliche” [The Uncanny], Kristeva declares that “the other is my (own) unconscience”. … She argues that that which is uncanny now, was once familiar. The uncanny always provokes, Kristeva says, “my difficulty to place myself in relation to the other, and … the trajectory of identification-projection that resides at the basis of my access to autonomy”, evoking the process of repression of the once familiar by the narcissistic Self. … This leads to the hypothesis that the ‘Other’ reflects the hidden corners of the ‘Self’ and therefore is part of the ‘Self.’ … To resume another aspect of Kristeva’s analysis of Freud’s thoughts: he distinguished the uncanny caused by an aesthetic experience from that caused by a real experience. Being fictional the aesthetic experience, or rather its artificiality, neutralizes the uncanny.  … The aesthetic experience offers the viewer a free mental space where real life’s laws and logic are abolished.’

20. Ibid

21. Peter Kattenberg, ‘The Value of Warhol’, in The Value of Culture, on the relationship between economics and arts, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 1996, p 208

22. Ben Borthwicks,

23. Anonymous,