A collection of writings on the death of Edith Piaf rests near a pair of discarded shorts found in a park in Manchester.

Elsewhere in the room, a west African painting of Queen Elizabeth II hangs alongside a pair of football strips. This gathering of objects has been carefully selected by Georges Adéagbo, whose multimedia installations resemble mood-boards that capture the zeitgeist of a city or nation at a particular moment in time. Created for the WhitworthÂ’s 2012 exhibition ‘We Face Forward: Art From West Africa TodayÂ’, Le devenir de lÂ’être humainÂ… (2000/2012) straddles two such moments. The bulk of the materials in the installation were gathered by Adéagbo in Paris at the turn of the millennium: coverage of François HollandeÂ’s election victory over Nicolas Sarkozy interspersed with VHS cassettes from a Parisian market. Prior to its installation in the UK, Adéagbo gathered further materials capturing the spirit in Manchester at the time of the London Olympics and the QueenÂ’s Jubilee. Among these objects, Adéagbo added items he had found of African origin, and commissioned works of art from his native Benin, connecting the cultures of the European cities with that of his homeland. Whitworth Art Gallery is home to a world-class collection of west African textiles, a legacy of ManchesterÂ’s long history of trade with the region. This major work by a west African artist, which addresses the legacy of African trade with the West Midlands, is a significant addition to the galleryÂ’s collection.


The artist.

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