One of the prominent photographers from Porto Novo in Benin, his work borrows from both the modern and the traditional, and throws light on how the world seeing Africa, leads it to see itself. Featuring dramatic masked Egungun figures, bare breasted women, and a colonial style backdrop in some of the images, Agbodjelou references both the history and the ritualism that cloud our gaze when we look at this continent. At the same time his images stand as testament to how Africa has embraced and shared those aspects of its culture that are rich and unique, while blending in with other social and cultural aspects that the globalised world favours.
One of our favourite exhibitions to currently see in Vienna is Evil Things – An encyclopaedia of bad taste at the Möbel Museum Wien. A tongue-in-cheek look at those everyday objects that make us grimace or laugh, that have had an unexpected impact on society or the economy, that are utterly useless, have big design flaws or are just plain rude – there’s an interesting conversation to be had around each and every one of these objects.
The exhibition also invites visitors to leave behind their bad taste objects with a story of why they consider the item to be terrible. All the written humour and indignation was completely lost on us given the German wall text, but what we did witness is that one person’s jewel could very easily be another person’s garbage. And since we ourselves possess and have gifted to friends a few of the displayed objects, we completely put down bad taste as being in the eye of the beholder. Now you tell us, why would anyone pass up on the chance to own a set of wind-up teeth that walk across the table? That’s so many hours at work taken care of!
Some of the objects that made us chuckle…
Nearly all these pictures are courtesy eBay.
On a more serious note, the exhibition is based on a 1912 publication by the art historian Gustav E. Pazaurek where he drew up a criteria on taste mistakes of all kinds. Pazaurek also believed that every institution or museum should have a chamber of horrors cataloguing past design mistakes for students and designers to learn from.
This exhibition includes loans from Pazaurek’s original collection as well as new items from several other museums. Getting visitors to bring in their items as this exhibition does, is also an effective way of acknowledging that everyone has taste or at the least has an item to be commemorated to the Chamber of Horrors.
A definite must-see even if you don’t understand German, we’d also encourage you to wander through the rest of the Möbel Museum which is magical in a quiet, non-touristy-museum sort of way…to us this is the best kind there are!