Meschac Gaba’s ‘Museum of Contemporary African Art’ is an immersive twelve-room installation, a ‘museum within a museum’, which is currently sprawling through Tate Modern. It includes its own shop, library and restaurant as well as less conventional museum spaces such as a Salon, Music Room and Art and Religion Room – where you can sit down to relax, play the piano or have your tarot cards read.
Gaba began working on the Museum of Contemporary African Art in 1997 during a residency in Amsterdam because he felt there was no space in Europe or Africa for the type of work he wished to make. As the work developed over several years and at various locations, Gaba also incorporated expressions of his own biography, including a Marriage Room containing photos, gifts and his wife’s wedding dress from their marriage ceremony, which was conducted inside the museum. The Library also contains an audio work in which the artist imagines what his late father might say about his son’s life.
The ‘Museum of Contemporary African Art’ is ‘not a model…it’s only a question’, says Gaba. As much a conceptual space as a physical one, it stands as a provocation to the Western art establishment to attend to contemporary African art.