“When I first went to Africa, I had a Heart of Darkness image in my head. I expected to find straw huts, tribal masques, outrageous banana beer parties and naked voodoo dancing. Instead, I ended up working in Kinshasa, an enormous anarchic city of 8 million inhabitants.
I soon realized that my initial expectations were hopelessly wrong. There was hardly any banana beer available. However, even in the midst of the civil war, there was always plenty of ‘Primus Qualité Export’. Although the beer was never intended for export; it seems that the export quality label added to its enormous popularity.
After having heard of a flourishing Congolese mask factory (where craftsmen make new antique masks for French and American collectors), I decided to make my own series of African masks for the European and American market. I asked a Congolese sign painter to paint the ‘Primus Qualité Export’ beer label on wooden masks bought from a street vender in Kinshasa. The word Primus was replaced by Masque. I later called the pieces: ‘Masques Qualité Export’ and sold thirty nine of them".