Ever since the beginning of the 1990s and his participation in Documenta11 (2002) and at the Venice Biennale (2005 and 2009), Pascale Marthine Tayou has been known to a broad international public. His work is characterized by its variability, since he confines himself in his artistic work neither to one medium nor to a particular set of issues. While his themes may be various, they all use the artist himself as a person as their point of departure.
Already at the very outset of his career, Pascale Marthine Tayou added an “e” to his first and middle name to give them a feminine ending, thus distancing himself ironically from the importance of artistic authorship and male/female ascriptions. His works not only mediate in this sense between cultures, or set man and nature in ambivalent relations to each other, but are produced in the knowledge that they are social, cultural, or political constructions. And it is in this context that Tayou negotiates his African origins—he was born in Nkongsamba, Cameroon, in 1966—and related public expectations.
What does it mean when Pascale Marthine Tayou titles his Kunsthaus Bregenz exhibition I love you!? Is he referring to the group exhibition Love is Colder than Capital that took place at the same venue almost exactly a year ago, and where his huge rotating sphere Empty Gift was a favorite amongst the public? Or is it a declaration of love addressed to the institution? The emotional exuberance the title expresses is conveyed by his solo exhibition especially conceived for Kunsthaus Bregenz, with its profuse and lavish presentation uniting diverse media from drawings and objects to large-scale spatial installations.
As he often does, Pascale Marthine Tayou is using numerous people of different ages and from a range of social and professional backgrounds to help him realize his works in Bregenz. This includes a cooperation with the Vorarlberger Kraftwerke AG power company, whose trainees are a part of the installation team. The procedure illustrates Tayou’s distrust of a heroic image of the artist that sees the author as a detached, aloof figure, as well as revealing his genuine interest in other people. The Kunsthaus Bregenz show is his first large-scale solo exhibition in Austria.