Georges Adéagbo

Synchronizing Archaeology- Designation of Events

Biography of Georges Adéagbo List of Exhibitions Selected Bibliograpy
link to Benin The Venice Biennale Installation  
artist's book on the Biennale Project   jointadventures coverpage

Georges working in his studio,
Cotonou, Benin 1/20

Georges talks about his work 2/20

'Le spiritualism-le vaudoun' Cotonou, Benin,
January 99, image 3/20

Text describing archaeology 4/20

Sao Paolo Biennial,
October, 1998

detail of 'Cannibalism'
an inquiry about the

'The Story of the Lion'
The 48th Venice
Biennale, Campo dell'
Arsenale, June 10th

Georges' text for the 48th
Venice Biennale
installation June tenth,

Through his unique installations, Georges Adéagbo is able to investigate the mysteries underlying the
evolution and destiny of a person, a city or a country. This often means tracing as many as several
hundred aspects, each represented by an object, to reveal these forces that combine to form a culture.
Georges does not consider himself a painter or a sculptor. Instead, he stands apart from the art scene,
simply trying to think about -- and find solutions -- inherent in our present world. As a neutral bridge
between races and by revealing universal aspects of cultures he seeks to serve as a catalyst for mutual
understanding. Respecting and celebrating worldwide diversity, Georges is constantly searching for
evidence of sources common to all to present in his compositions. His hope is that all of us will be able
to sense stages of our evolution and gain an insight into our destiny.

‘L’art est dans la nature! C’est l’art qui fait l’artiste. Ce n’est pas l’artiste qui fait l’art!’

Georges Adéagbo was born in 1942 in Benin,West Africa, the eldest son of eleven children. He studied
law and business in France, but had to break off his studies, and relinquish assured success and marriage,
when he was called back to Benin by his family in 1971 after the death of his father. Derailed, he began
to regain balance in his life by creating “installations” in his courtyard.(12) After working alone for 23 years,
he was invited to his first exhibition in France. Since then, he has participated in more than fifteen
exhibitions, including the Palais of the United Nations, Geneva; The Serpentine Gallery, London; the
Round Tower, Copenhagen; and the Second Johannesburg the 24th São Paolo and 48th Venice

Georges expresses his insights through installations of:
-Commissioned paintings and carvings
-Books and articles supporting his hypothesis
-Original texts
-Found objects that intertwine his theories with the conditions of his chosen location
-Sculptures and found objects from Africa to represent his origins and perspectives

The combination of sources from Adéagbo’s home country and the location of his installations
establishes a harmony between the artist and the subject of his study.(5,6) By creating a dense symbolic
network of events, Georges Adéagbo illustrates the universality of the laws of nature that govern life
everywhere, while at the same time revealing the diversity of conditions that exist within a given
location. Common source for problems in the world is man’s attempt, looking for personal advantages,
to change the initially perfect placement of every being, to uproot things from their optimum
environment. “Fish are meant to live in water and you can’t expect an apple to taste like a banana, yet
man tries to make many similar changes without being willing to bear the consequences.” Georges
compositions show that each existence, represented by an object, unfolds its full potential, when placed
in the context, which it was created for. The installations also demonstrate, that ill-placement and
ill-timing of actions, can thwart and harm beings with a strong potential and even lead to misfortunes.

Georges works everyday,
also when traveling.
Hotelroom installation
Hamburg, July 1999



Georges' message was
not understood for many
years. 12/20

Interpreting numerological relationships of historical and personal dates, numbers on license plates, tickets, and textile labels,(13) similarities of found and bought objects in form and color and imagery (11), names and themes appearing in book titles, (10) clothes and articles, Georges classifies phenomena and creates cross links between various families of events: his personal history, with episodes in politics, history in general or the lives and activities of leaders, martyrs, writers, characters from the art world, relatives and friends, which are part of his universe. Georges’ encounter with certain objects and events mark incidents of synchronicity which yield evidence that ‘my person of Georges,’ as the artist calls himself in his texts, moves on the beat of the rhythm of destiny composed by the creator for his existence.

On the other hand, Georges commissions carvings and paintings, realized by Cotonou craftsmen following his precise instructions (see page 'link to Benin') to be used together with found objects and original texts as reference guides. This combination alludes to man’s blade-walk between predestination and free choice, and reminds that one has the chance to both recognize what is written in one’s stars and assume responsibility for maneuvering through life.(see page 'Venice Biennale installation', image 14) Once willing to look at oneself, one can avoid distractions, which cause deviation from the optimum path resulting in the fulfillment of a given potential.

‘Les quelles qui se semblent, se rassemblent..!’

George’s’ thoroughly classified archive of events, knowledge of history and repertoire of instructive
legends and mythologies, resembles in some aspects the reference collection of Nigerian Yoruba priests
who practice divination through the Ifa, the casting of eight kola nut halves, whose permutation of
positions correlates precisely to a certain story among hundreds to choose from. Similar to procedures
of the I Ching, the energy state of the person seeking advice, coincides with the divinatory pattern and
therefore he or she will hear the tale from the priest which will help most among all to answer the
question to solve.

The objects Georges finds, the when and where, position, condition, vicinity to what, allow him to
analyze and describe the condition of a situation with the most suitable set of instructive accounts
embedded in the vehicles which came to him. Those serve both him and the viewers to see where they
are at and also recognize, which choice might bear most fruit in the future. To sum it up, the timing of
the find and nature of an object can be seen analogue to the position of thrown divination tools, only
that the hands which put them onto Georges’ path are invisible, and the size of the divination board
beyond man’s measurement.

By faithfully reading the hints given to him and researching the grammar for their lecture, Georges
Adéagbo can sharpen through his installations the viewers’ sensibility to recognize and pick up the signs
which are meant for each of them. He encourages and urges people to invest time and patience in
developing the reading capacity of their individual messages. His work inspires to examin, whether the
goals and visions one hosts are truly original and authentic, or if they were implanted by education,
advertising or other means of manipulation.

‘Il me faut une tête et c’est ma tête qu’il me faut’ (19)

While many artists produce works which are sent from venue to venue, Georges creates site-specific
installations only, which refer to the history, spirituality, nature and way of living of a personality or a
place. Once a theme is given by a host, Georges spends months of research in his archive and plots
what could be called a vector map of the constellation of forces which led to the present conditions of a
situation. He requires to spend enough time beforehand the opening on location, to compare his
theoretic research with the direct experience of the circumstances. Then he complements the set of texts
and objects brought from Benin with pieces from that particular environment. Georges picks up things,
lost or thrown away, during walks, scans book shops and flea markets in the town of the exhibition
venue, to acquire what he needs to finalize his composition.

The collection made and texts written during these nomadic stays become evidence of Georges’
presence and customize the work , allowing it to root, link and harmonize with the spirit of a new
milieu. Never imposing, the final work is a carefully balanced chemistry which offers a multitude of
stimuli for thoughts, links for associations and unveils clusters of unverified assumptions. If an
institution or collector decides to keep the installation dedicated to them, a precise plan to facilitate
authentic reinstallation on the same premises is compiled and left with the work as artist’s certificate.

At his home in Benin,(1-3,13-15) when not preparing an installation for a host venue, Georges studies the
lives of missionaries and martyrs, who had to suffer immensely while fulfilling their task to instruct mankind,
often killed by fanatics who opposed their transforming influence.

'The mission of Gandhi and
his sudden death is a re-
occuring theme in Georges'

Abraham Lincoln, who
abolished slavery, was
assisinated in a theater.
Georges investigates the relationship between
martyr. 14/20

'Georges has his
own thoughts on why
Hiroshima was chosen
target for the Atomic
Bomb,August 6th, 1945, 15/20

Discussion with Roman
Opalka about the meaning
of stepping into the next millenium 16/20

With documents, books, memorabilia, objects carrying allusions, commissioned paintings and original
texts referring to Abraham Lincoln, Behanzin (the last king of Dahomey, before the French colonialists
took over in 1894), Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba, John F.
Kennedy and other channels of innovative thought Georges vividly describes his theory of death and
resurrection of kindred spirits. Also the analysis of phenomena of pure power, such as Napoleon, Hitler(17),
Phillipe Petain, Charles de Gaulles and Jacques Chirac, events as the bombing of Hiroshima (15)occupy his
mind. Episodes from the old and new testament often represented by African sculptures and
constellations of found objects, elicit thought about the choice between the benefits of doing good or
consequences of doing evil.

Georges stipulates that art works should be a mirror which helps viewers to gain clarity about their own
lives(18), simply by confronting the frank language of an artist talking about his experience and sharing self
critical observations which demand for the determination of priorities. The installations Georges creates
for the venues constitute an oracle and talisman to give guidance and protection for navigating through
life. Georges, neutral bridge between races, wishes to create mutual understanding between those who
consider themselves to be different and to remind those jealous of others’ success, that they have their
own destiny to fulfill. His installation works can be used for orientation, analogue to a map and
compass, a mental space to meditate about where one came from, ones current position and last but not
least, whether one is on the path to recognize and fulfill what one is born to do.

“Creez pour vous liberer..!” 20

Georges investigates the phenomena
of Hitler and his followers
with persistence. 17/20

'Identity' a question
can be raised by picking
up a sweatshirt on the
road. 18/20

'You can only use your head' 19/20

'Create in order to
liberate yourself' 20/20

"The tree of comprehension
All events are connected-groups of phenomena-
permutation of elements-nothing is accidental-
nothing is replaceable-suffering he burnt his pride
-Georges Adéagbo has one of the keys
to unveil the master-plan"

Stephan Köhler

Please consider contacting the authors before using any of the images or text passages.

© 1999 Joint Adventures Art Projects
For further information:
Stephan Köhler
Fax +81-52-955 0121, Tel. +81-575-34 8335