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
Conceptual artist Meschac Gaba was born in Benin in 1961. Trained in Amsterdam, Gaba balances multiple identities: he is African as well as European, an artist as well as a curator, and an international practitioner whose work examines notions of interdependence in a globalized world. For the artist, his art-making is a way to raise questions about the construction of identity and value. Gaba considers himself a citizen of the world and he divides his time between Cotonou and the Dutch city of Rotterdam. In an interview in 2014 the artist proclaimed “I have no artistic nationality” affirming that he finds inspiration in the world around him, in other words in the global community.
This monumental work, titled Citizen of the World, is composed of the flags of all nations of the world that come together and become one in the center of the composition. This global flag is a hopeful gesture for a globalized era, one that the artist describes as “symbolic of a togetherness that can resolve the difficulties and crises that proliferate across our world.”
Look at the edges of the flag and you may be able to identify the flag of your country. As your eyes navigate the surface of the work, you are symbolically traveling through the globe, being of your country but above all, being of the world. As your sight moves to the center of the flag, you notice it becomes harder to identify individual flags and the lines and colors merge in a point of convergence that moves forward into space. This piece is a special addition to the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College since the education of students for global citizenship and responsible leadership is part of the college’s mission.