Hey out there.
Well I’m back to Ghana again this summer, doing related but slightly different work. I’m in the process of changing the blog title to reflect the new theme, from “Junior Art Club in Accra, Ghana” (the organization where I worked last summer) to “Art Worlds in Ghana.”
There are two parts to this project: one, helping artists to archive their work and establish websites; and two, organizing an art project in a public space between the artists and local students, in collaboration with the Junior Art Club (JAC). I’m staying with the artist Larry Otoo, and I’ll also be working with Wiz Kudowor, Serge Attukwei Clottey, and Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya. Or at least that’s the idea… It’s Ghana, so who knows what will happen. Last summer I ended up doing very different things from what I expected (thought I’d be doing film, media and journalism work, but ending up doing more theater, creative writing, networking, etc.). It worked out great, but I have to recognize that there’s only so much I can plan for.
This time I’ll be based in the capital, Accra, rather than splitting my time between there and Ada Foah, a coastal village just outside the city. But I’ll still go back to Ada to visit my Ghanaian fam, don’t worry Kofi, Gladys, Euphemia, Alfred.
I fly out to Africa tomorrow (!), but I don’t get to Ghana till June 14. First I’m going to Cape Town to visit my friend Kelley HC ’12 who’s studying abroad there. I’m excited to explore the city’s art galleries and museum culture, cause South Africa has the most established/international contemporary art scene in Africa.
Last semester while I was abroad, I did a research project on West African artists in Berlin (I focused on West African artists simply to reduce the breadth and because my initial interest came out of Ghana). I got to know a bunch of amazing artists, critics, scholars, and historians, including:
-Akinbode Akinbiyi - the “grandfather” of African art in Berlin; known for his photographs of mega-cities across the world. Whether working in his hometown of Lagos, his current base of Germany, or anywhere else in the world, he captures a kind of banality in the every day and makes it beautiful. We shared some lovely afternoons over mint tea and meatballs at Meilinstein in Berlin
-Mansour Ciss – a “dreamer” whose highly conceptual work envisions a utopian Africa for the future. He’s got it planned to the T, with infrastructure, transportation systems, real identity cards, self-designed bills, and a functioning ATM machine. He complicates issues of race and power and enacts a direct challenge to colonialism
-Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung – a self-described artist, scientist, and curator. This guy does it all: runs an international art gallery, publishes a contemporary African art journal (in English und Deutsch), and makes his own paintings, collage, and multi-media work – while also keeping up a day job as an engineer
-David Amaechi Dibiah – an artist who refuses to describe or categorize himself; younger than the others. He runs workshops with children and does all kinds of work (performance, sculpture, painting, photography), and he always channels a positive energy coming from the African Ubuntu religion and ideas of spiral geometry, which emphasize unity, peace, tolerance, and seeing yourself in another
-Philip Metz - one of the only Afro-German artists I met with (born in Germany but of African heritage – though he himself does not categorize his race in any way). You never know what to expect with him, but you do know he will challenge society and break the rules of the art world. Once he plastered a city with gray posters that didn’t announce anything; another time for his piece at a museum, he decided to shut it down
-Sandrine Micosse and Yvette Mutumba are two great art historians I met. Sandrine wrote her dissertation on issues for and expectations of African artists in Berlin. Yvette wrote her Ph.D. on representations of contemporary African art in Germany.
Well, that’s all folks. Gotta finish packing…bug-sprayed all my clothes, and now I just have to get together final things. Next time you hear from me, it’ll be from Africa.
Tschüss (as they say in Berlin)
P.S. here’s an interesting frieze article on contemporary African art that HC prof John Muse sent to me
Tags: ada foah, africa, akinbode akinbiyi, alfred, art, art worlds in ghana, berlin, bonaventure soh bejeng ndikung, cape town, contemporary african art, david amaechi dibiah, euphemia, frieze, german, germany, Ghana, gladys, haverford, haverford college, jac, john muse, junior art club, kofi, larry otoo, mansour ciss, olaniyi rasheed akindiya, philip metz, sandrine micosse, serge attukwei clottey, south africa, west african artists, wiz kudowor, yvette mutumba