Following his formal art training in Cameroon, Hervé Youmbi concentrated on installation and video at l‘École supérieure des arts décoratifs de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France between 2000-01. Youmbi’s current project Faces of Masks, disrupts the codes and conventions of a vernacular ‘African aesthetic’ through conflating divergent aspects of cultural identities. For Faces of Masks, Youmbi commissioned Bamileke craftspeople (the Bamileke people collectively refers to some 100 kingdoms or chiefdoms of the eastern Grassfields in Cameroon’s Western Province) to create a Ku’ngang mask incorporating the face of a Dogon mask from Mali. Bamileke leaders authorised Cameroonian artist Hervé Yamguen to activate the mask through ritual as part of his inauguration into the Ku’ngang Society, which Youmbi filmed.
Youmbi has since presented the mask in an exhibition at Barthélémy Toguo’s Bandjoun Station in Bandjoun, Cameroon, among other locations. Youmbi’s artworks have been collected internationally, including the installation Totems to Haunt our Dreams, held by the National Museum of African Art — Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., USA.