- Born 1988 in Allada, Benin.
- Based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Born in Benin, West Africa, Thierry Oussou received an art education at the Rijksakademie in the Netherlands. As a visual and conceptual artist, his practice incorporates a diversity of media. For instance, his recent “Impossible is Nothing” project began by fabricating and burying a replica of the royal throne of Béhanzin, who was the king of Dahomey before it was colonized by France. Much later, Oussou organized a series of performances, including an excavation of the site by archaeological students, surfacing conceptual issues that underly debate on the return of plundered art and artifacts.
At Aichi Triennale 2022, Oussou presents a new body of work, Equilibrium Wind, which derives from Benin’s status as the largest producer of cotton in Africa. Alongside a large-screen video showing Benin’s expansive cotton plantations and scenes of an installation involving four tons of raw cotton, he exhibits dyed works produced from native Japanese cotton and Chita cotton. Aichi Prefecture’s history of cotton growing and cotton textile production provides hints for a reconsideration of the society that the People’s Republic of Benin (1975–1990) aimed to construct.
Cotton has a long and varied history, and is still the frequent subject of international debate on topics such as poverty reduction, agricultural subsidies, and the Strategic Development Goals. The artist runs a cotton plantation, like millions of other small farmers who produce cotton, supporting their families and their communities. Through this project he calls attention to the fact that the price of cotton on the markets is clearly different from the price of gold or oil, and encourages us to give thought to the workers whose manual labor produces the cotton. Through encounters with the people who underlie the cotton industry, Oussou’s approach can be seen as a proposal engendering hope for an ideal production and distribution cycle.
Major exhibitions by Thierry Oussou include Thierry Oussou at the Centraal Museum (2023; Utrecht, Netherlands), Art du Bénin d’hier et d’aujourd’hui : de la Restitution à la Révélation (2022; Cotonou, Benin), Unlocked/Reconnected at Oude Kerk (2020; Amsterdam, Netherlands), and Impossible is Nothing at Art Exchange (2019; Essex, UK). He has also participated in art festivals such as the 21st Sesc_Videobrasil Biennial of Contemporary Art (2019; São Paulo, Brazil) and the 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2018; Germany).
- Selected Works & Awards
- Solo exhibition (upcoming), Thierry Oussou, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Netherlands
- Art du Bénin d’hier et d’aujourd’hui : de la Restitution à la Révélation, Cotonou, Benin
- Unlocked/Reconnected, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Impossible is Nothing, Art Exchange, Essex, UK
- The 21st Sesc_Videobrasil Biennial of Contemporary Art, São Paulo, Brazil
- The 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Germany
*Last admission 15 min before closing time
- Venue / Access
- Former Earthenware Pipe Factory (Maruri-Toukan)
- 7 minutes on foot from Tokoname Station on the Meitetsu Nagoya Line / Tokoname Line.