Statecraft : An Incomplete Timeline of Independence

Statecraft, 2014
In the installation Statecraft, the short century of decolonization, as formulated by Okwui
Enwezor, is envisioned in the form of a political calendar assembled from the unlikely and
anaesthetic medium of the postage stamp. These masscult artifacts, issued to commemorate
the independence of African nation-states, from the centenary of the founding of the Republic
of Liberia in 1947 to the founding of the Republic of South Sudan in 2011, are integrated into
an elaborately designed display system that invites sustained attention to this often
overlooked media.

As a display system, Statecraft can be seen as an “Incomplete Timeline of Independence”
whose unhistorical and unsystematic selection is entirely determined by the medium of the
online digital auction through which the stamps were acquired. Statecraft reveals the
“Independence” postage stamp as the convergence of three aesthetic projects: Pan-Africanist
Pop-Art, Social Realist Prometheanism and hagiographic state portraiture.
Designed and printed in factories in Holland, England and Switzerland, these transnational
objects of prepaid currency participated in the civil disturbances unleashed during the
founding of Independent states that persist into the legitimation crises of the present.
Statecraft approaches the postage stamp less as a witness to history in the making than as an
agent of political power. Its indifferent and egalitarian ability to serve power renders it a form of evil media which elevates the sovereignty of dictators and revolutionaries alike.


Stamps, lightbox built from various material, LED panels.
45.5m – 50m long x 1m high
Shown as single length, or divided into a maximum four sections in one room.



Installation©TheOtolithGroup