Meschac Gaba’s Tresses cycles draw on West African masking traditions invested with psychosocial power and magic. At the same time, they are rooted in secular fashions, specifically the styling of hair extensions. Gaba’s new Car Tresses cycle inverts the relationship between First and Third Worlds, looking at vehicular transport as a metonymic element within consciousness. His Colours of Cotonou installation uses the device of the frame as a relatively traditional meditation on art and value, but Gaba goes beyond this in two ways: in his conscious play on the French word cadre, meaning both “frame” and “political party operative,” and in his refusal to offer critique through his work, embracing instead an existential diaspora of contradiction.

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