Dimitri Fagbohoun
Black fabric, reflective stripes, zippers

In this Exile Pavilion, this state- less pavilion, the flag, as a symbolic element of identity and belonging, is evoked by several artists from different perspectives. Here, Dimitri Fagbohoun’s African European Flag superimposes significations, open to the great complexity that a symbol of syncretic cultural and identity can take on. At first glance, it resembles the American flag, with its two-colored stripes and stars. But its chromatic twisting is reminiscent of the one per- formed by Afro-American artist David Hammons, who created the “African American Flag” in 1990, an American flag whose colors are switched to those of Panafricanism (black, red and green). Here, it isn’t the relation between African and America that is in question, but the post-colonial relation between Europe and Africa – the two continents the artist belongs to – reduced to the basic colors that are black and white.
On the AEF, the stripes, made of reflective fabric, are held together with zippers. Where- as on the American flag, the stripes are sewn together (instead of being printed) in order to symbolize the construction of a durable union, here the zippers seem to ex- press the fragility of any union, whether it be European-African or Panafrican. A powerful visual object, this flag can be perceived as a way of materializing “globalness”.

About the artist

Born in 1972, in Cotonou, Benin, Dimitri Fagbohoun lives and works between Paris, Brussels and Cotonou. Having grown up in Cameroon before settling in France where he now lives and works, the themes and questions he addresses are a reflection of his background and history, straddling geographical and artistic boundaries. His work is thus inseparable from his own experience, his plural identity. Heterogeneous by the forms it uses, video, photography, installation, it expresses a relation to the identities and the history in which its writing disturbs the models that constitute them. In his practice, he questions themes as identity, memory, religion and politics. His work has been shown internationally (London, Moscow, Berlin, Montréal, Sao Paolo, Dallas, Cuba, among the others), and exhibited in Africa (among others) as part of the African Photography encounters in Bamako (Mali) in 2007 and 2011, the Pan-African Festival in Algiers in 2009 and the Picha Biennale in Congo in 2010 and at the DAKART biennial OFF 2012 and 2016. In 2014-2015, he participated in Simon Njami's Divine Comedy Project which opened in March at the MMK, Museum für moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, (Germany), he was shown also at the SCAD Museum in Savannah, Georgia (USA) and at the Smithsonian National Museum Of African Art in Washington DC, (USA). In 2015, he participated (among others) in the exhibition A l'ombre d'Eros at the Royal Monastery of Brou, Bourg-en-Bresse, France and at Infecting the City, public arts festival, Cape Town.

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Courtesy: the artist and Officine dell’Immagine, Milan