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Abraham--L'ami de Dieu (Abraham--Friend of God) [Philadelphia version]
Georges Adéagbo, Beninese, born 1942
Weaving together visual and textual narratives, Georges Adéagbo meditates on the concept of sacrifice and freedom in this multimedia piece, linking the history of slavery in the United States with a biblical story and the French colonial experience in Africa. Borrowing from altar design, "tourist art," contemporary installation art, and African storytelling, Adéagbo carefully selected and arranged the items for Abraham---L'ami de Dieu, combining texts, images, and even discarded objects from Benin (the country where the artist was born and lives), New York (where the piece was initially installed), and Philadelphia. For this Philadelphia version, the artist added printed materials from the Philadelphia Museum of Art (such as the brochure for a concurrent Mircea Cantor exhibition), clippings from recent Philadelphia newspapers, and books that he collected during the process of creating the installation.
As part of the process of making Abraham---L'ami de Dieu, Adéagbo commissions works from artists in Benin. This installation includes paintings by Esprit (Eli Adanhoumè); wood carvings by Hugues Hountondji and Eduard Kinigbe; and lettering on glass by Boniface. Hountondji was in charge of creating the new sculptures added to this Philadelphia version of the piece, among which is the model of the Liberty Bell and a carving based on the thirteenth-century tomb relief Recumbent Knight in the Museum's collection, which Adéagbo saw reproduced in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Handbook of the Collections. Of the forty paintings produced by Esprit, ten are based on photographs taken in Philadelphia or on publications Adéagbo gathered in the city, including several illustrations from the Museum's catalogue of the exhibition Tesoros/Treasures/Tesouros.