Pascale Marthine Tayou

Pascale Marthine Tayou, Le Chantier (installation view), 1999

Pascale Marthine Tayou, Le Chantier (installation view), 1999

Pascale Marthine Tayou (b. Yaoundé, Cameroon) is an artist who works in a variety of media, often deliberately confounding the expectations of the institutions that seek to represent him. His mixed media installations – made from objects and materials found on-site – defy stylistic or historical classification and intentionally subvert formal resolution.They are often politically contentious, though not without humour. Using images and texts to trace his own history and identity Tayou offers a personal view of the post-colonial situation. He has also commented on the prevalence of the AIDS virus in Africa, and on the politics of the art market.

For TRACE, Pascale Marthine Tayou used objects found during his stay in Liverpool for his installation in the Exchange Flags building. The piece, entitled Le Chantier (1999), also included a video he shot in Sete in the south of France. It documented a particularly dangerous local event: Le Joute. Tayou’s poetic description of this ancient spectacle could also have been read as an attack on social and political complacency, a theme he returned to repeatedly in his writing as well as his art:

Movement / Energy

there is the public . . .


people find pleasure in the tension, like a new fashion of life,

like a new way of social truth

maybe we live with some kind of tension inside us?

and then this can explode,

like some kind of crash,

like volcanoes,

the burning flood

takes everything that crosses its path,

it gets settled into our deepest society.

This will transform in society, and we'll get obliterated to respect this.

Pascale Marthine Tayou at Liverpool Biennial 1999

Le Chantier
, 1999
Video installation 
Courtesy of the artist
Exhibited at Exchange Flags