UCCA presents Meschac Gaba: Sweetness, a solo project by the internationally acclaimed Beninese artist, exhibited in China for the first time. Sweetness (2006) is a large-scale model of a fantasy city that brings together landmark buildings from around the world—all made from small pieces of sugar. The work was conceived by the artist on the occasion of the 27th San Paulo Biennial, which was themed “How to live together;” its buildings are loosely arranged according to the city plan of Recife, Brazil, where the artist once did a residency.
“Meschac Gaba’s installation makes an utterly sensitive statement, providing an alternative to the usual interpretations of our globalized world. This sugar mock-up of an utopian urban development reveals a unified yet incredibly fragile society, pure in its ideals but toxic in its realization,” says Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director.
“With Sweetness, Gaba has created a proverbial ‘global village’ out of refined sugar–a simple substance we largely take for granted, but whose history is inextricably linked to early global trade and the development of European empire and dominance. Sugar connects people through a shared desire for sweetness, but its profitability also led to the African diaspora, as slaves were brought by the Portuguese to work on the sugar plantations of Brazil during the 15th and 16th centuries. At once a tantalizing image of harmony and a reminder of sugar’s history,Sweetness is emblematic of Gaba’s larger interests in diasporic populations, architectural forms and intercultural contact,” observes UCCA Curator David Spalding.
Work courtesy of Galleria Continua San Giamignano / Beijing / Le Moulin.