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The Livingstone Door, 2014, Goethe on Main, Johannesburg

In correspondence from 1936 till 1949, colonial officials from the Tanganyika Territory tried twice to have the door repatriated.  The first attempt was for the original door to be included in a museum being built in Dar-es-Salam. A few years after the first request was rejected, there was a second, this time for it to be returned to Livingstone’s restored house in Tabora, which was being turned into a museum. This time, the Africana Museum denied the repatriation, but conceded to make a replica of the door to be sent to the new Museum.


The paper stack is made out of over 100 photocopied documents of correspondence about the repatriation and technical details for replication of Livingstone’s ornately carved wooden door. After much deliberation, a decision was made that the Africana Museum would separate the door into panels and make moulds, to be sent to Tabora, where the replica would be cast and installed in Livingstone’s reconstructed house. 

Ironically, the dismantled panels of the original door are now being stored in a back room of MuseumAfrica, while the replica door still stands at the entrance of Livingstone’s house, now a museum, in Tabora.


In order to create the work, the Livingstone Door, scaffolding was erected to support the 180 000 sheets of carefully stacked A4 paper reaching 3meters in height. Shortly before the opening of the Nesting Narratives exhibition, the scaffolding was removed which resulted in the almost immediate collapse of the monumental stack of photocopied paper. The ‘half fallen’ stack of paper is what was shown at the exhibition. 

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