Ndayé Kouagou

contact: youngblackromantics@gmail.com instagram: @youngblackromantics

Ndayé Kouagou (born 1992) is an artist and performer based in Paris; his practice always starts from texts of which he is the author. Voluntarily or involuntarily confused, he tries as best as he can to bring a reflection on these three topics; unease, power and vulnerability. The result is… what it is. He describes his work as “quite interesting, but not that interesting or maybe not interesting at all”.

He has presented his work, among others, at Fondation Louis Vuitton (Paris), Wiels (Brussels), Auto Italia South East (London), Centre George Pompidou (Paris) and Centrale Fies (Dro/Italy).

He is represented by Nir Altman (Munich) an Gathering (London)


A change of perspective (solo), FRAC Ile de France (FR), September 2023
The Guru, Transmediale, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien (DE), January 2024
Vous, Nous, et le reste (Performance), Contemporaine de Nîmes (FR), May 2024
Untitled (solo), Westfälischer Kunstverein (DE), June 2024
Untitled (group / curator), Fragment Gallery (NY), September 2024
Untitled (solo), Gathering London (UK), November 2024

Click here for more information about forthcoming and past exhibition

The Guru, 2023

Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (FR)
Solo show, curated by Claudia Buizza & Ludovic Delalande

In this monumental video installation, Ndayé Kouagou features a non-gendered character, carefully dressed and made up, with a feminine voice, who strolls along the walls of the gallery. Facing the viewer, with whom the protagonist—borrowing the artist’s features—wants to interact, a discourse unfurls, marked by timeless thoughts and feelings: doubt, self-confidence, love, the desire to escape, and otherness. This monologue, which is filled with humor, was written by Ndayé Kouagou and draws inspiration from various YouTube videos: tutorials, vlogs, and unboxings. The installation invites viewers to contemplate and analyze their own inner worlds, asking questions like, “Do we expect less or more?” “Are we trying to give or take?” and “Is this about you or us?”

—Words by Claudia Buizza & Ludovic Delalande

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Direction, direction?, 2022

Sundy, London (UK)
Solo show, text by Giulia Civardi

“If you were looking for direction, this is definitely not the place” – spell the billboard-sized words on the aluminium wallworks. The message doesn't sound reassuring, yet it offers a warning, suggesting that there could be more to it. In the video a coin is a coin candidly speaking into the camera, the artist wishes to clear a misunderstanding and offer advice. Impersonating a figure that could emerge from the news and entertainment, Ndayé performs a specific kind of wayfinding. The artist prompts the question of movement and triggers spatial interrogation, not so much about where one is going, but where one stands – how one ‘looks’ and sees things. The video questions the position of viewers and their inherent biases. Ndayé knows that language controls and captures. Like in the series of small artworks that oscillates between layers of clarity and opacity, using fabrics imbued in resin covered by a text printed on a clear resin.

—Words by Giulia Civardi

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After all a coin is a coin, 2023

Liste Art Fair, Basel (CH)
Installation with Nir Altman Munich

- "After all a coin is a coin" is here to clear any misunderstanding. As we live in a world where things are opaque, "After all a coin is a coin" is clearly here to make things transparent. Do you doubt? You don't believe it? Just the title itself, "After all a coin is a coin", clear, simple, no confusion possible. That's what this is about, making things simple and bringing CHANGE into your life. An installation, promising a lot and delivering even more on topics like comfort, binarity and direction. If you don't believe it, you're sane, if you believed it, bless you. -

"After all a coin is a coin" (2022) is an installation presented for the first time at Liste Art Fair in Basel (CH) in 2022, and is now part of the Collezione Maramotti (IT).

I’ll only swallow my own fluid, 2021

Centre Pompidou, Paris (FR)
Performance curated by Caroline Ferreira

I'll only swallow my own fluid. Such a weird decision, but, why? Of course the question is why, it's always why, but, why not? Ah! It’s even more difficult to answer to “why not” than to answer “why”. The answer is closer to “why not” than it is to “why”, and you know why? Because at some point you’ll have to swallow some fluid, so, why not your own? And you know what, it’s surprising that you’re ready to swallow a stranger’s fluid before even thinking of swallowing your own.

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Good People TV, 2021

Frieze London, London (UK)
Installation curated by Cédric Fauq

The video is continuing the series of work of the same name (2021—ongoing). A guide for people to ask themselves the right questions and become a good person. Of course, the video doesn’t bring any real answers, but opens conversations and thoughts in a humorous tone on what it means to be good. Accompanying the video installation, you could find a pamphlet stating:

I know what you want, I can see you struggling, you want to be a good person! I mean, what else could you wish for? As I’m myself a good person, I’m ready to share all the secrets I have for you to also become one, and as I know how busy you are, I’ll make my advice as short, effective and easy to understand as possible. I’ll give you an advice, a real good quick advice, for you to become a good person.

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Will you feel comfortable in my corner? #2, 2021

Athens Biennale, Athens (GR)
Installation curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah

Where can I feel comfortable in this changing world?
The only place where I feel comfortable is in a corner, so I brought my own.
Will you feel comfortable in my corner?

Originally a performance work, the piece has been remodeled by the artist to create an immersive physical installation. It is situated around a corner, so to view the work you must first enter it. This is intrinsic to the exploration of this piece as a hermetic object, one that is both a philosophical system and a piece that offers closure whilst in it. Kouagou plays with the intimate as perception and choreographs the viewing body from an unseen hand as he guides you into the work.
The architecture of the installation is forcibly turned inwards. Kouagou sees this as a contradiction in terms, as an art object is typically created to be seen. He draws on this further as the video begins to play and he invites the viewer to contemplate on the notion of otherness by creating relatable narratives that are in fact not universal but instead very —another contradiction and exploration of the unique, rather than the Populus.

—Words by Larry Ossei-Mensah

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TBH if it’s not about me I’m not really interested, 2020

Nir Altman, Munich (DE)
Solo show, text by Cédric Fauq

Ndayé told me a few things about this exhibition, whose title “TBH if it’s not about me I’m not really interested”, acts not only as provocation but as marketing strategy. In the history of messages written in bold capital letters, what is conveyed often enacts togetherness and solidarity (in one way or another). The display of a seemingly shameless egocentric statement (whose font only bolsters the boldness of it all) might throw off a few, but is soon enough owned by the reader (you), and make you ask:
(1) Yes, indeed, I’m never that interested if it’s not about me (self-reflection stage);
(2) No really, I’m not ONLY interested if it’s about me… (empathetic stage);
(3) Who’s ME? (metaphysical stage).

—Words by Cédric Fauq

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Will you feel comfortable in my corner?, 2020

Ariel Feminisms, Copenhagen (DK)
Perf/exhibition curated by Karen Vestergaard Andersen & Nina Wöhlk

What makes someone open or closed? People don’t have a lid or a bottle cap, so what makes them open or closed? Do you consider yourself open or closed? Is one better than the other? Are we always looking for the best? Are you always looking for the best? Are we always looking? Are we always?
Ah! You don’t have any answer, all you want to say is “yes I am open” but deep down you’re not sure if that’s the case. Sorry for putting you in this situation. But don’t worry, here is my corner. It’s really comfortable, I’ll share it with you!

The exhibition reflects Kouagou’s explorations and approaches to the subject of otherness. By looking into how we share vulnerability and fortitude, Kouagou deals with the concepts of freedom, legitimacy and privilege as defining conditions for what is viewed as other.

—Words by Karen Vestergaard Andersen

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A simple and easy talk about love, 2019

Les Urbaines, Lausanne (CH)
Perf/exhibition curated by Deborah Joyce Holman

I’m sorry, I’m really sorry… I have to stop saying I’m sorry, because: I’m not sorry and I hate people who always say sorry (that includes you my love). But what will I be sorry about? What did I do? I lied, I mean, not really, let’s say I promise something and deliver something else or maybe I promise something that sounded like something but was something else, not really a lie finally. I promise a simple and easy talk about love, a simple conversation with love as a topic. And what did I deliver…

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I like them they’re nice, 2020

Nir Altman, Munich (DE)
Group Show curated by Ndayé Kouagou

Nir Altman asked me to imagine a show for Various Others 2020, so thats what I did. The show is called “I like them, they're nice”. We decided to invite Paul Maheke and Rebecca Ackroyd. Why this artist you ask? Because I like them, theyre nice.

No need for a wall, it’s a garden. No need for a roof, it’s a garden. No need for much, it’s a garden. One person will build the foundation and the other one will build the furniture and I’ll do the rest. No concrete for our foundation but a constantly moving presence, to welcome you and anyone who wanna join. A nice place for a conversation or maybe THE conversation, with a perfect cast, why them you ask? Because I like them, they’re nice.

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One side is rarely similar to the other, 2019

Auto Italia South East, London (UK)
Performance curated by Tarek Lakhrissi

I wanna be nicer, but I also wanna be meaner. I think of myself as a nice guy, but I can see myself being mean. I don’t want to see myself being mean again, and I don’t want to be so nice anymore. But I don’t want to be a soft human being, I wanna be strong but not too strong. I wanna be soft when needed, but not too soft, not as soft as a sponge. Does soft equal nice? No, soft mean soft, like a sponge, a sponge is not nice. Does strong equal mean? No, because mean is rarely strong.

What is not tall, is not necessarily small, 2020

HEAD, Geneva (CH)
Workshop invited by Aloïs Godinat

My weeklong workshop at HEAD was an amazing time, even more than expected. Im glad that my unconventional/vernacular approach of art and teaching was well received by the students. I believe that there is so much missing in art school, and I felt that what I brought was part of what is missing and what is needed.
During this week we tried to answer the questions: how to exist in your practice but not make it only about yourself and how to bring this practice into a professional environment. Using writing as a starting point and developing form around it.
I was really impressed by the students, their devotion, interest and spirit, thanks to all of them for trusting each other and opening themself during this week.

Thanks Alois Godinat for the invitation and Davide Christelle for the support.