MESHAC GABA (b. 1961, Cotonou, Benin), CITOYEN DU MONDE, Inkjet print on synthetic canvas, 2012, The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, Gift of Barbara ‘68 and Theodore ‘68 Alfond. 2017.6.47
This large work is printed on synthetic canvas and measures more than 16 feet wide and almost 10 feet high! The use of synthetic canvas is important to the work, as the material is commonly used for outdoor items that face exposure to moisture and sun-- like flags. What we see is the artist’s vision for a global flag.
Meshac Gaba is an international artist who was born in Cotonou, Benin -- the largest city in a small West-African country. He was educated in The Netherlands and now splits his time working there and in his native Benin.
His work addresses constructions of cultural identity and world economics. In Citoyen du Monde, the artist presents a unique global flag in which we see, but barely recognize, each of the 196 countries of the world.
As our sight moves away from the edges of the composition and toward the center, the flags become so thin that it is almost impossible to distinguish them individually. The notion of division and borders diminishes the more that we view this canvas.
Gaba’s composition provides an explosion of color and an energetic rhythm.
The distinct coloring and design of each flag is lost in its new form. This new vision and, ultimately, new symbol of a unified and peaceful world is as light-hearted as it is idealistic. It is indicative of the artist’s approach to the serious topics he explores in his artwork; it is a hopeful gesture.
The artist stated that his flag is “symbolic of a togetherness that can resolve the difficulties and crises that proliferate across our world.” Gaba’s work provides a visual reinforcement of Rollins College’s mission to model global citizenship.
In other words, it is a recognition of each of our communities as innately tied to a greater system in which our place in the world is not isolated, but connected. Everyone has the opportunity to make a significant contribution and better the planet that is home.