Tracking Ghana’s Emerging Art Practice

Tracking Ghana’s Emerging Art Practice

All the World’s Futures, curator Okwui Enwezor’s conspicuous project for the 2015 Venice Biennale, certainly served up content-rich, social and political commentary. In one way or another it painted or rather – in true Enwezor fashion – documented a myriad of complexities facing our rapidly globalising planet. And, with Enwezor operating as the first-ever curator from the African continent, it’s no surprise then that many of the press discussions surrounding the biennale took on an African dimension.

Consequently, it felt apt to hear the news that Ghanaian artist El Anatsui was presented with a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Throughout the biennale proceedings I was repeatedly reminded of one particular thought from an interview earlier this year with ACCRA[dot]Alt’s Sionne Neely. “We are seeing more artists [in Ghana] now thinking differently about how to push their work forward…creatively collaborating…bartering with one another to get their needs met.


Perhaps the reason why this comment continued to return, was because it is the perfect compliment to the methodology and recognition of Anatsui’s contributions. Upon exiting the Arsenale through Ibrahim Mahama’s ominous serial jute sack installation, I was visibly aware of the past in discussion with the present. Emerging in tune with experience; connected through notions of repetition, seriality, material recycling and a common Ghanaian heritage. But above all, it was their shared collaborative spirit that provided a lens with which to look forward–into the future.

This intermingling between past, present and future, was an episode reminiscent of Walter Benjamin’s reading [2] of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus. However, it led me to recognise the sense of collaboration present in many conversations within this Next Chapter series; particularly, in the case of Ghana.

From the outside looking in, the collaborative dynamic is seemingly imbued with an even greater sense of urgency. Arguably, it feels as if this spirit is a key driver of what is happening in Ghana right now, as events like ACCRA[dot]ALT’s Chale Wote festival suggest.

The festival, an unapologetically multidisciplinary arts event, brings together everything from music to fashion, art to drama and even BMX riding. Yet, what is most encouraging about it’s success is how it both embodies Ghana’s current vibrancy and speaks to an exciting cross pollination. One that is happening between organizations such as Nubuke foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Art – Ghana, Accra Theatre Workshop, cultural research center ANO, ACCRA[dot]ALT and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Museum (K.N.U.S.T.).

In an interview, art historian, filmmaker and writer Nana Oforiatta-Ayim of ANO, spoke of the situation.“It feels like it’s not just enough for us to produce, but that we have to provide the context and the paradigms for that production.”

It is this recognition of a shared sense of responsibility that will be pivotal in terms of addressing some of the characteristic bureaucratic shortcomings, stimulating the field of emerging Ghanaian practice and helping to continually position it as an exciting, experimental space.

With this in mind, we have profiled three emerging Ghanaian artists who speak to these notions of energy, collaboration and multidisciplinary practice.

Contributions to an ever-developing discourse

Kwame Asante Agyare, Larry Achiampong and Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh each operate very unique and distinct practices, however various facets within their work speak to ideas of collaboration and multidisciplinarity. Whether it be  Asante Agyare and his milk tin sculptures; Achiampong and his work with music archives or Ohene-Ayeh and his negotiation between the role of artist/curator, each practice possesses a dynamic energy. Their conscious decision to explore themes such as prejudice, heritage, labour and shared narratives mark their work with a maturity and urgency that positions them as vital cogs in Ghana’s emerging discourse.

Kwame Asante Agyare
Questioning relationships between Reality, Originality and Authenticity

Kwame Asante Agyare utilises recycled milk tin cans to create “curtains and Konko car” installations exploring notions of repetition and seriality. With an interest in the work of philosopher Jean Baudrillard – specifically his Order of Simulcrum – Agyare’s practice questions the relationships between reality, originality and authenticity. It is on this point, that an interesting dynamic develops between Agyare’s theoretical interests, and his use of materials. His decision to utilise a ubiquitous material such as a the milk can, speak to and simultaneously critique an everyday reality faced by many Ghanaians.

kwame asante

kwame asante1

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[Via: Anotherafrica]




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