Anthropologist Rhoda Woets not only wrote an essay for SMBA Newsletter #129 on the work of kari-kacha seid’ou, she also lectured modern and contemporary Ghanaian art on September 30. During this afternoon Woets discussed the work of several artists in relation to the complex definition(s) of contemporary Ghanaian art. The notion of contemporary art in Ghana is for instance related to institutions such as art schools and art galleries. Popular art, craftwork and weaving such as kente are usually not included in this category.
The Ghanaian government has a tradition in stimulating the arts. In 1952, five years before the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom, the College of Art in Kumasi was established. Resonating its colonial relations, the school was affiliated with art institutions in London, such as Slade and the Royal College. Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah continued many of these international connections, as he took Western culture as exemplary in his mission to create an independent nation-state. In his vision modern art was a tool to construct identity; he argued that artists should express Ghanaian cultural history in their work. Many Ghanaians indeed relied on African traditions and symbols in order to express their identity. One example of this concept of ‘Sankofa’ is the ‘Accra Optimist Club’, a group of Ghanaian men who wore traditional cloths during colonial times.
The Stedelijk Museum and Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam proudly presented the symposium ‘What is a Postcolonial Exhibition?’, an SMBA initiative organized as part of the program of Temporary Stedelijk 3 – Stedelijk @. Click here to read the symposium’s info sheet and watch the video registrations below.
What is a ‘Postcolonial Exhibition’? has been made possible through the support of:
Amsterdam Fund for the Arts
SNS REAAL Fonds
Part 1: Mapping the Field (turn up volume)
- Margriet Schavemaker, Head of Collections, Stedelijk Museum. Introduction and Welcome.
- Elena Sorokina, art historian and freelance curator. Introduction to exhibiting the postcolonial.
- Jelle Bouwhuis, Curator, SMBA. Brief note on the Stedelijk’s global art history.
- Johannes Fabian, Anthropologist. Introduction to Time and the Other, after interviewed by Anke Bangma, curator at the Tropenmuseum.
In collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam organized the symposium What is a ‘Postcolonial Exhibition’? on May 25. During this day the institutional engagement with the colonial past and the postcolonial present was discussed. The symposium presented a range of institutional practices and scholarly insights to examine a specific aspect: the exhibition itself and the exhibition strategies that go alongside it.
Curator Christel Vesters wrote an extensive report on the symposium.
A first impression, by Christel Vesters
What is a ‘Postcolonial Exhibition’? kicked-off with an introduction by co-organiser Elena Sorokina, who eloquently outlined the framework for the symposium by unpacking its two primary questions: ‘what constitutes the postcolonial today?’, and ‘what is the language of an exhibition?’ If an exhibition today is no longer merely a space in which objects are put on display but has developed itself as a trans-disciplinary, narrative space in which the parameters of time and space are no longer fixed, how can exhibitions then respond to developments like globalisation, post-colonialism or to our multicultural societies?
Journalist Wim Bossema wrote a report about the art scene in Ghana for the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. Bossema met the internationally known and successful artist Kofi Setordji, and spoke to him about his new project in which he combines applied arts (and design) with fine arts. For this project, Setordji collaborated with the Nubuke Foundation. Furthermore Bossema discusses the paintings and installations of the Nigerian artist Akirash and the tradition of the highlife music genre in the 1960s and 1970s, which loses popularity due to the current curfew-order.
Click here to read Wim Bossema’s Dutch article ‘In Ghana ligt kunst op straat’.
The Nubuke Foundation’s Kofi Setordji and Odile Tevie visited the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, thanks to the support of the Prins Claus Fund. Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam is preparing a cultural exchange programme with Ghana, in which Netherlands-based artists and Ghana-based artists will meet and exchange knowledge, skills and experiences. The Nubuke Foundation plays an important role in the production of this Project 1975 exchange programme.
Click here to read more about the Nubuke Foundation and follow this Project 1975 blog to learn more about the cultural exchange programme.