Virtual Experience: Curating the Contemporary

(Because this Contemporary Art Revolution in Ghana was BORN digital)

 

This 360-degree, binaural sound walk-through of a contemporary art exhibit in Accra includes ambient sound from sound installations filtered through. The exhibit, Cornfields in Accra, was the 2016 year-end show for students at Ghana’s KNUST University (KUMASI).The exhibit was produced by blaxTARLINES KUMASI working with Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB), staged at the Museum of Science and Technology (MST).

In Accra and Kumasi, an increasing number of shows such as Cornfields in Accra (KNUST 2016, above) and Dispersed (by Black British Female Art Collective at Nubuke 2017), work by juxtaposition and bricolage rather than intensive narration. Curators, whether the artists themselves or collaborators, are turning to diverse artists’ voices to bring attention to art, rather than congealing around an “orderly” narrative of art practice. Through this process, curators call attention to the contradictory experiences and structural discontinuities that constitute contemporary Accra life and, more broadly, a globalizing world. To do so, they point to, network with, and engage the local scale more than any other. Cornfields in Accra breaks into and out of exhibition spaces, spilling out onto the streets and plastering neighboring walls, or covering buildings (such as with Ibrahim Mahama’s works). Artists in Cornfields are also turning to the diverse specificities of multivocal lives in order to generate knowledge out of the contemporary moment—in this exhibit, numerous artists turn to local spaces and specific individuals (rather than generalized figures) to call attention to the ephemeral personalities of labor in the urban milieu. From the Accra merchant
women in Caleb Prah’s photographic installations, to each named character in Adjo Kisser’s provocative graffiti paintings, to the clothing, abandoned by graduating women students at KNUST, collected, worn, and displayed by Va Bene Elikem Fiatsi.

When placed in conversation with one another in large, multi-layered shows,  curatorial narratives emerge at a multitude of levels—from unconscious or suggestive dialogues between works that emerge as a result of proximity, to the audience’s own narratives, built through their intellectual work in the space of the exhibit. These narratives are open-ended and dialogic. This approach to curation shifts the focus from how art is read and displayed in-situ, to the pragmatic logistics of exhibition.

The size alone of the art movement in Ghana is breathtaking, leaving artists and curators with questions such as: How is one to mount guerilla exhibitions, transport and install complex artworks, or organize 212 artists and their works in the
space of only a month? It is in the solving of this problem, and the creative energies put forth to it, that the contemporary art movement has shown itself a powerful political and social force in Ghana.

 

Participating Artists

(BFA 2016, selected): Ababio N. Y. Ablordeppey, Felix Brenya Acheampong, Adwoa Konadu Antwi-Boasiako, Sampson Addae, Dominic Osei-Adu, Samuel Asiedu, Samuel Asare Frimpong Ansong, Juliana Asare, Salomey Asante, Paul Amegboe, David Amofa, Seth Atuah, Simon Bowman, Aisha Ali-Musa, Mabel Akomea Yeboah, Samira Abdulai Moro, Abubakar Sadik Idris, Ebenezer Ennuson, Belinda Owusu, Prince Douglas Asiedu, Joseph Kobby Anim, Dorothy Kumah, Henry Obeng, Thelma Opoku Danquah, Deborah Serwaa Oppong, Jonathan Okoronkwo, Prince Osae-Nyarko, Nana Kofi Owusu-Sekyere, Kingsley Oppong, Kwofi Remy, Emmanuel Safo Siaw, Prince Yeboah, Hoglah Tabuah Som, Darren Shimawuda Ziorkley.

(BFA 2017, selected): Kevin Boamah Abankwa, Georgina Fynn, Daniel Boakye, Fredrick Nii Noi Botchway, Rosemary Esinam Damalie, Earl Davis, Valentina Duffour, Stephen Kwakye, Tracy Thompson, Andrews McCarthy, Priscilla Kennedy, Bernice Ameyaw, Yaw Asare Bediako, William Asiedu, Caleb Prah, Prince Oduro, Percy Nii Nortey, Jeffrey Owusu Peprah.

Alumni: Lois Arde-Acquah, Alvin Ashiatey, Lawrence Baganiah, Elolo Bosoka, Eugene Edzorho, Afia Prempeh, Elvis Nsiah, Yaw Owusu, Deryk Owusu Bempah, Emmanuel Kwaku Pianim, Desmond Acquah, Akwasi Afrane, Livingstone Amoako, Geoffrey Biekro (Captain’s Kitchen), Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (crazinisT artisT), Kelvin Haizel, Yaw Brobbey Kyei, Esther Ofosu (XTA), Daniel Osei Poku, Adjo Kisser, Mavis Tetteh-Ocloo.

Special Guest Artists

Bright Tetteh Ackwerh, Dorothy Amenuke, Rex Akinruntan, Lolo Atanley, Timothy Affram, Edwin Bodjawah, Ibrahim Mahama.

Curatorial Team

Artistic Directors: kąrî’kạchä seid’ou, Kwaku Boafo Kissiedu, George Ampratwum.
Curator: Bernard Akoi-Jackson.
Associate Curators: Robin Riskin, Mavis Tetteh-Ocloo, Selom Kudjie, Frank Kofi Gyabeng, Patrick Nii Okanta Ankrah.
Graphics: Alvin Ashiatey, KNUST, Kwabee Arts Afrancho, Kumasi, Kofi Royal Arts, Ahinsan, Kumasi.
Exhibition construction: John Aganda, Francis Djiwornu, Elvis Nsiah, Elolo Bosoka.
Catering: Geoffrey Biekro (Captain’s Kitchen).Organisers: blaxTARLINES KUMASI team.

Collaborating Institution

Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, Museum of Science and Technology.

Support

Dr. Zagba Oyortey, Mahmoud Malik Saako, Michael Obuobi, Edwin Bodjawah, Dorotthy Amenuke, Michael Adashie, Benjamin Okantey, Kwabena Poku.

Funding

Ibrahim Mahama, Friends of blaxTARLINES and Department of Painting and Sculpture, KNUST.