Pascale Marthine Tayou

We met Pascale Marthine Tayou in his beautiful atelier in Ghent where he has been working for over 10 years. One half of the space is his work area and the other half his personal museum. Together we explored this little world of wonders, with a special story behind every object. Pascale is constantly switching roles between being a father, a teacher and an artist. Between all this he managed to create his solo exhibition, aptly named Tornado, at Mu.ZEE in Ostend.

Interview by Laura-Andréa Callewaert
Photos by Tiny Geeroms, shot in Ghent


Exposing is like an adventure, how to start a new conversation with the audience

What does your daily life look like?
I live in the center of Ghent with my wife and children. I’m a teacher at les Beaux-Arts de Paris and beside that I work a lot in my atelier at Dampoort. The last year I mainly focussed on my exhibition at Mu.ZEE. We wanted it to be a complete journey, that’s why I took enough time for it to grow. The process itself is really important and I like that part a lot. Exposing is like an adventure, how to start a new conversation with the audience. The museum is some sort of laboratory, a playground for me, a space that is in constant motion. Museums have systems, codes to follow, which makes it more difficult.

I looked for ways to change those mechanisms in the museum. I wanted to bring a new flavour, some spice in the regular tomato soup. Making stuff is just making stuff, and then you just look at stuff.

I see inspiration itself as something manageable

Of course, it can be a nice sculpture, installation, painting… But you should ask yourself: how do you sculpt your inspiration? I see inspiration itself as something manageable. How to bring this as something tactile in the space, from the abstract to the concrete.

You tend to focus on daily objects in your work. How come?
I’m fascinated by the small things in life, the banality of objects and giving a new meaning to them. Often by putting them in another context than usual. How to frame banality in an essential form? Everything is essential, it just has less or more shadow on it.

Value is something we all experience differently

Little objects would like to be as important as bigger objects. By changing the value of the objects, I want to show that value is created by humanity, because a little object is as valuable as a bigger one. What makes something more valuable than the other? That’s something society decides. But why? Value is something we all experience differently. What is valuable to you isn’t necessarily valuable to me. Everything that is here is necessary for the whole.

Can you tell us a bit more about the exhibition itself?
I tried to implement actual subjects into the exhibition. I focussed on things like identity, colonisation, boundaries and gender. These are subjects I think about on a daily basis. I wanted to show the audience how I perceive them. Who are we and where do we come from? Is this even an important question to ask ourselves?

Who are we and where do we come from? Is this even an important question to ask ourselves?

I was born in Cameroon but I’ve been living in Ghent for so long. What does that make me? I’m just a human like everybody else living on this planet. We all come from the same place. They’re all heavy subjects but I made them very playful in the exhibition. Because in the end, that’s the way we should look at things and I hope I can show that to my audience.

Why did you name it Tornado?
By exploring art, it becomes something more dynamic. And that’s why I called the exhibition Tornado. I want people to enter my personal tornado, I want them to go in between the layers and details of what I present. A tornado is pure movement on itself, like we move around an exhibition for example. And then, when you walk around my work you will be the movement in the space, which makes YOU the tornado. I’m actually reversing the exhibition towards you, the audience, but you don’t know it.

Tornado, Pascale Marthine Tayou’s solo exhibition
at Mu.ZEE runs until 01 Sept