For Open Space #11, his first solo museum exhibition, Ndayé Kouagou created The Guru (2023), a singular work produced by the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
In this unprecedented, monumental video installation, Mr Kouagou presents a femininely voiced character, impeccably attired and made up in gender-neutral fashion. Ambling before visitors along the walls of Gallery 8, this protagonist – to whom the artist lends his features – shares a narrative steeped in the thoughts and feelings so present in contemporary life: doubt, self-confidence, love, escapism, otherness. This monological, humour-tinged dialogue – written by Mr Kouagou himself and inspired by the YouTube videos, tutorials, vlogs and unboxings that the artist regularly consumes – invites us to contemplate and analyse our inner worlds: Do we expect less or more? Are we trying to give or take? Is this about you or us? Still, unlike thought leaders and other neo-gurus who use social networks to present self-help tips and behavioural techniques for achieving a successful life, this “guru” furnishes neither tools nor solutions. At show’s end, the image vanishes, the character’s life-sized projected silhouette, which formed such a palpable presence, disappears, the lights come up, and only the questions remain. With the installation/performance The Guru, Mr Kouagou kindles a very personal, yet universal, exercise in reflection, one in which all may take part and internalise as their own.
For the installation’s opening, Ndayé Kouagou has invited dancer Soa Ratsifandrihana and performer and videographer Harilay Rabenjamina to create a new performance to be presented on Friday, 7 April, at 8 p.m. in the Fondation Louis Vuitton Auditorium.
Ndayé Kouagou was born in Montreuil, France, in 1992, and currently lives and works in Paris.
Ndayé Kouagou is at once author, performer and videographer and uses spoken and written language as the raw material for his artistic practice. Writing his own texts, primarily in English, in which he addresses universal existential questions, the artist then creates performances, videos and sculptures/paintings around them, exploring the power, meaning, sound and form of words.
Ndayé Kouagou is represented by the Nir Altman Galerie in Munich, Germany