YOUR FOOT, MY FOOT
Artists: François-Xavier Gbré
Your Foot, My Foot features unpublished work by Franco-Ivorian photographer François-Xavier Gbré documenting the urban and social upheavals that shook Côte d’Ivoire after the electoral crisis.
The first part explores various layers of Yamoussoukro, the capital built by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, founder and president from 1960 to 1993 of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. Attesting to the hopes of the past, Gbré lingers on the ruins of the headquarters of the PDCI-RDA (Parti Démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire-Rassemblement Des Africains), the party founded by the father of independence. The vestiges of the unfinished presidential palace in Yamoussoukro illustrate the difficulty of decentralizing institutions in Côte d’Ivoire.
The second part puts these contemporary photographs into perspective with pictures from the archives of several studios active in Côte d’Ivoire from 1955 to 1988. Photographers, mainly French, left a rich, eye-opening account of the young African nation’s transition to independence and march to modern statehood.
In a country again boasting one of sub-Saharan Africa’s highest growth rates, building sites dating from the “Ivorian miracle” and those of today echo each other in Gbré’s work. This dialogue in time dovetails with an exploration of the landscape and a search for ways to present archives, which the artist has worked on in West Africa for many years.
In this project combining photography and historical enquiry, Gbré teamed up with photographers Louis Normand and Jean Carval as well as with Aké Honoré, an Ivorian assistant of French photographers. The sight of him holding up a sign in the foreground recalls the complexity of the ties between France and Côte d’Ivoire that Gbré inherited.
Courtesy of the artist and the Galerie Cécile Fakhoury.
Commemorative plaque, PDCI-RDA, Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire, 2018.
Presidential Palace, Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire, 2018.
Born 1978, Lille, France. He has 2 nationalities of Ivory Coast and France, now lives and works in France and Côte d'Ivoire.
While engaging with time and geography, Gbré's work invokes the language of architecture as a witness to memory and social change. From colonial remnants to landscapes reshaped by current events, he explores territories and revisits history. The artist's ongoing dialogue with his surrounding environment is rendered in meticulous installations that are veritable investigations of territory, and by in-situ presentations that make photography felt through a physical relationship to the audience.
Portrait of François-Xavier Gbré: Roel Veyt.