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ARTicle 14, Romuald Hazoumé

World Museum

Free Admission

19 May 2006 - 03 September 2006

View of installation

ARTicle 14 installation

This fascinating work is brought to Liverpool by Jump Ship Rat and October Gallery, London, and is a combination of found-object installation, sound and vast panoramic photographs.

Jump Ship Rat have commissioned new work to accompany ARTicle 14. Made by Hazoumé in collaboration with METAL House Liverpool, discarded objects collected by schools and community groups from Kensington and Toxteth recreate a Beninese market scene.

The title of Hazoumé’s work is derived from the hypothetical ‘fourteenth’ article in African constitutions, which is popularly said to be 'débrouilles-toi, toi-même' or ‘look out for yourself’; in other words, ‘you’d better look out for yourself because no one else will’.  Inspired by a concern to reflect the realities of daily life in West Africa, the work examines the individual life of the street trader who must continually reinvent survival strategies and negotiate ever changing urban territories.

The localised trade of global products is central to Hazoumé’s work, as is a deep sense of history.  Contextualising the social realities of contemporary capitalist exchange with the historical trade of materials and manufactured goods between Africa and Europe, Hazoumé alerts us to the pervasive exploitation of human labour which he sees as a modern manifestation of slavery.  The current manifestation of this exhibition explores the history of Hazoumé’s home town of Porto-Novo and its relation to the maritime history of Liverpool, highlighting how colonialism and globalisation have affected contemporary African society. 

World Museum provides a thought-provoking context for ARTicle 14, as Hazoumé’s critique of imperialism and consumerism lends new dimensions to the discussion surrounding the collection in the museum’s World Cultures gallery.  Hazoumé comments 'today Europeans have taken away all our masks, in return they have left us waste which we do not even manufacture ourselves'.

The use of reclaimed objects in his installations relates to the resourceful strategies employed by people in West Africa, but it is also about tracing memory; the relationships between objects and people. When the function of objects is made redundant by change, technological advancement and the ceaseless creation of product markets, history remains embedded in them.