david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale
 

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

ghana’s first national pavilion at the venice art biennale 2019 opens to the public on saturday. located in the artiglierie of the historic arsenale, it has been designed by UK-ghanian architect david adjaye, and marks the first time ghana has participated in the event.

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

just amongst ourselves (2019), lynette yiadom-boakye
images courtesy of the artist
all photos by david levene

 

 

entitled ‘ghana freedom’, the ghana pavilion exhibition takes its name after E.T. mensah’s song which marked the country’s independence in 1957. rooted both in ghanaian culture and its diasporas, large-scale installation, photography, film and video sculpture, introduce the country as a cultural powerhouse with a crop of six artists of ghanaian descent.

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

just amongst ourselves (2019), lynette yiadom-boakye

 

 

a series of images from taken by ghana’s first female professional photographer, felicia abban, trace gendered embodiments of modernity through dress politics. taken throughout the 1960s and 1970s, abban regularly produced self-portraits before attending dinner parties and political events. abban worked before, during, and after ghanaian independence and even worked worked as a photographer for ghana’s first president, kwame nkrumah, for many years during the 1960s.

just amongst ourselves (2019), lynette yiadom-boakye
image © designboom

 

 

elsewhere, british artist lynette yiadom-boakye exhibits a collection of her oil paintings which depict imaginary black people. she uses race as something to manipulate, or reinvent, creating fictional subjects with a lack of fixed narrative, which leaves her work open to the projected imagination of the viewer.

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

yaw berko (2019), el anatsui

 

 

no stranger to the biennale, former golden lion winner and artist el anatsui presents his chainmail-like wall relief sculptures. thousands of printing plates, bottle tops and copper wires are woven together to create endless possible forms that tell rich and wonderful stories.

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

opening of time (2019), el anatsui

 

 

anatsui transforms materials chosen for their poverty, drawing connections between consumption, waste, and the environment. anatsui became an international sensation following the 2007 edition of the international art exhibition, where the artist transformed the facade of the palazzo fortuny.

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

a straight line through the carcass of history 1649 (2016-19), ibrahim mahama

 

 

fellow sculptor ibrahim mahama exhibits a continuation of ‘a straight line through the carcass of history’ installation. bringing together materials, including smoked fish mesh, wood, cloth and other archival objects, he draws from various origins and geographical contexts to confront the supposed linearity of historiography.

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

a straight line through the carcass of history 1649 (2016-19), ibrahim mahama

 

 

mahama is best-known for his urban-scale installations which consist of hundreds of jute sacks, a commentary on ghana’s historic economic relationship with other countries. mahama was recently invited to milan by the fondazione nicola trussardi where he wrapped two neolcassical tollgates in porta venezia.

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

glass factory II (2019), selasi awusi sosu

 

 

glass factory II (2019) by selasi awusi sosu comprises a three-channel colour and black-and-white-video installation. using glass bottles, she creates ghostly holographic re-stagings of the now defunct glass bottle manufacturing process in ghana.

 

also being exhibited is short film by british artist and filmmaker john akomfrah titled ‘ the elephant in the room – four nocturnes’. the three-channel video installation has been co-commissioned by the ministry of tourism, arts and culture of ghana, sharjah art foundation and smoking dogs films with support from lisson gallery.

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

the elephant in the room – four nocturnes (2019), john akomfrah

 

 

curated by film-maker nana oforiatta ayim, artists are exhibited throughout a series of elliptically-shaped interconnected spaces. each one draws inspiration from classical structures in ghana and is plastered with locally-sourced earth.

 

being able to show the diversity and creativity of ghana on an international scale is an incredible achievement, and one which showcases the talent that we have to offer‘, sir david adjaye says.the commitment and inspiration shown by the president in commissioning this pavilion is a testament to what our country has to offer the art community.’

 

david adjaye designs ghana's first pavilion, open at venice art biennale

image courtesy of adjaye associates

 

 

alongside the exhibition, the ghana pavilion exhibition also includes a publication with a preface by president nana addo dankwa akufo-addo. there will be a series of platforms during the 58th international art exhibition in venice, and ‘ghana freedom’ will travel from venice to accra after the closure of the exhibition in november.

 

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