Pascale Marthine Tayou’s drawings, sculptures, installations, videos and performances address issues of cultural and national identity and borders in an age of global tourism, drawing on his own experiences of frequent travel. Tayou often works with found materials, objects and images emblematic of people’s itinerancy and circulation around the world, such as train and bus tickets, flags and postcards.
The recycling and re-purposing of materials is a strategy for several artists in the ‘21st Century: Art in the First Decade’ exhibition who comment on issues of the global circulation of goods, consumption and waste. Made from thousands of plastic shopping bags, Tayou’s monolithic assemblage Plastic bags 2001–08 is an ominous spectacle of consumerism that hangs from the ceiling, as if threatening to spill its junk on the gallery floor. Tayou has compared the plastic bags to people, describing them as both ‘useful and dangerous’, emphasising the underlying contradictions of a world saturated with commodities.