Material: Wood, glass beads, wood glue, cotton thread, silicone
Youmbi’s installation is located in the disused Überwasser cemetery, near General Ludwig Roth von Schreckenstein’s grave. Suspended among the trees, four massive masks appear to hover some ten metres from the ground. Another four, smaller masks are mounted directly on the trees. Les Masques célèstes incorporates iconography from popular Western capitalist culture: immediately apparent is the Ghostface mask—from the American horror film Scream (1996)—which was in turn inspired by Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting. This icon of fear is juxtaposed with animistic tokens from many traditional African cultures. According to Youmbi, these animate the spirits of the dead by inviting them to enter and possess the masks during celebratory ceremonies. Youmbi commissioned the masks from workshops in Cameroon. His intervention at a Christian burial site, a location for the commemoration of the dead, raises questions about religion, spirituality, and superstition. Youmbi’s work highlights the objects and the sites where we make connections between this world and the hereafter and examines what parameters are used to decide whether these customs are valid, effective, or authentic.