Art Exhibition: “Ghana Freedom”, at the 58th Venice Biennale.
May, 2019. Venice, Italy.
I played witness to Ghana’s first appearance at the World’s Art Olympics; The 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia titled “Ghana Freedom” in May 2019 and the adventure was nothing short of amazing. The overarching theme for the Biennale, “May You Live In Interesting Times”, was just perfect as all countries represented contributed art, installations, films, themes, presentations and experiences that mirrored this compelling time in our lives.
Even though a first-timer at the Biennale, the all-star cast of the Ghana Pavilion – spanning three generations of artists, were able to ruffle some feathers on the global art scene. The artists, namely El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama, Felicia Abban, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, John Akomfrah and Selasi Awusi-Sosu presented strong works that spoke to each other and highlighted common threads across postcolonial Ghanaian culture in both its current inhabitants and the diaspora, firmly establishing Ghana’s mastery in the arts.
The exhibition comprised large installations by El Anatsui and Ibrahim Mahama; portraits by photographer Felicia Abban and painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; and a three-channel HD video installation by John Akomfrah juxtaposing a video-sculpture by Selasi Awusi Sosu. The Ghana Pavilion was highly acclaimed and declared a highlight of the overall Biennale by numerous press publications.
Located in the Arsenale, the Ghana Pavilion, with rusty red walls of imported soil shipped all the way from the Gurunsi community in Northern Ghana was designed by Sir David Adjaye, a british-born Ghanaian architect, and a leader of his generation whereas Okwui Enweazor, master curator, art critic and writer of blessed memory, served as Strategic Advisor.
Grateful to have gotten a chance to play a role as the Communications Fellow, as part of the Cultural Leadership Fellowship at ANO Institute of Arts and Knowledge. Nana Oforiatta Ayim, curator of the Ghana Pavilion is the Founder and Director at ANO, a non-profit organisation started in 2002, to uncover and create new cultural narratives of the African continent; connecting and supporting development through culture.
The pavilion’s opening was also patronised by Ghana’s First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Tourism Minister Barbara Oteng Gyasi.
During my time in Venice, I also checked out some art galleries, museums and pavilions of other countries for some more inspiration.
I left Venice filled to the brim with art sensations, also proud to be Ghanaian in such an interesting time.