Pélagie Gbaguidi

Title picture

For three months in 2007, A.I.R. Krems in Austria hosted Pélagie Gbaguidi from Benin.

About AIR Krems

In order to promote international exchange, the federal state of Lower Austria has initiated an artist-in-residence program, for which it has set up five studio apartments and a large common room on the top floor of the former carpet factory within the Art Mile in Krems (Kunstmeile Krems). In order to ensure diversity and a vibrant atmosphere among the studios, the program will award its scholarships to artists from the fields of visual arts, literature, architecture, and music.

From AIR Krems

Pélagie is an open-minded, communicative person and it was such a pleasure to work with her.

On the Biennale of Contemporary African Art she was represented by six pictures of the series “Le Code Noir”. Here in Krems we had the honour to show the complete series, including more than 120 works, in the Factory from April to June 2007.

Her work “Le Code Noir” is influenced by the political history of France, especially by the decree of King Lois XIV so called Code Noir.

She mentioned, nowadays it is necessary to look upon the history through different angles. She is interested in the history of black people, her origin, through time. So we visited KZ Mauthausen, to see an other dark part of our History, where also racism and misanthropy prevailed.

She says:”That we should learn from the past and may try to do it better in the present and future.”


From Pélagie Gbaguidi

My residency as an artist at Krems/Austria was one filled with an array of various feelings and experiences- this combined with a plethora of sensory experiences.

I arrived at Krems with a strict minimum of 26kg of baggage (half of which was reserved for painting materials), combined with my 58kg, made a total of 84 kg with which to tease the ghosts of this land, riddled with surprising beauty and unbearable history.

With what theme do you work?
With no theme; is life a theme?
I reflect only on the mistakes of the Past, to try to understand what we have fallen into.

"The bird is a gift, as it sees that what we cannot. Therefore, it can be a messenger. We have always the option to read, or not read, things in our lives as signs. But, what is most important is to remember that we are alive. The bird could also be a sign of those who carry us along through the sky- our ancestors. "

Lately, I am reflecting upon the nature of downfall, on a mechanical and symbolic individual level. A question comes to my mind, when I transpose this image onto the collective level, the national level, the human level...at what point can it be declared that a people are in full downfall?

Thank you for making me understand at which point I have been a speck on this beautiful landscape.

Every day I meet glances, as if for the first time.

The grace of resistance is in the love of what is to follow.

All genocides have the same root, why separate them?
To decorate the libraries? 

What is there between lies and the truth?
Probable response: "human beings".

Pélagie Gbaguidi
Residency Krems/Austria April-June 2007
With my gratitude to all of the Air Krems staff.


About Pélagie Gbaguidi

Born in 1965 in Dakar, Senegal, but of Benin origins, Pélagie Gbaguidi graduated in Fine Arts in Liege in 1995. She has been exhibiting since 1996 and lives and works in Brussels. “As a painter, I have included matter as a dimension into the manner to perceive the real. I am at an intersection between the material and in the immaterial. It has to do with the order of breath and the unseen. Working in such a space helps me to see a different reality and to decipher my outlook, as if I was turning transparent and that, at that very moment I could merge with my surroundings… "