© Peter Cox / Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

Care (2019-20) is a fabric-based work comprising colourful embroidery on white flour sacks and burlap. The work is either displayed hung on a wall or on a wooden tripod, taking the shape of a tent. It was made during the artist’s residency at Ifitry in Essaouira, Morocco (2019-2020) and was prominently exhibited in the 2020 Berlin Biennale.

The work addresses issues key to Gbaguidi’s practice such as exchange or barter. It does so both through the use of burlap sacks conventionally filled with flour, a fundamental trade good, and through the exchange of skills and knowledge that were integral to the process of making Care. To execute the piece, the artist used a technique of embroidery that she learned from local women, to whom she taught painting during the residency. The embroidered composition depicts intertwined arms in various colours reaching towards the sky in a gesture of protest or collective embrace. The fabric is hung to resemble the form of a tent or a shelter and thus evokes the notion of care as mentioned in the work’s title. This work is also an invitation from the artist calling for us to care for our relationships. It relates to the concept of “mondialité” or “worldmentality” theorised by philosopher Edouard Glissant in his book Poetics of Relation. Facing the growing insecurity of political and social boundaries, Gbaguidi invites us to nurture our own personal boundaries.

The human body is central to Gbaguidi’s work, which often is performative in character, employing her own body in certain pieces. The artist uses parts of her body to apply paint or pigment to the canvas, for example in The Missing Link, a second other work by Gbaguidi acquired by KANAL Foundation. She also represents body parts in many of her works, seeing the body as a knowledge keeper, a link between past and present, and an archive.