Yiwarra Kuju in the Martu language describes the Canning Stock Route- a track developed on the Aboriginal homelands through the expansion on the mining industry- a ‘meeting point’ between two cultures.
“I want to share this research I am working on at the moment and to connect 1844 to 1957. Also, I want to open up the conversation because there is obviously much to learn as well. More importantly, I would like to know other people’s perspectives about our history and how it has affected our national identity.”
To conceptual artist and curator Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, questioning is important. It makes more sense as he pulls a Ravi Zacharias quote; “To every question there is a bigger question; to every text there is a context.” With reference to his colleague and renowned Ghana based artist Bernard Akoi Jackson’s work , which has “considered this concept in several ways” and dealt, “for instance, with notions of identity construction, stereotyping and bureaucracy, as pertains to movement and space politics.” Bernard mentions that, “I always look at these issues through a filter of wit and humour. I like them because they become potent decoys to dealing with hardcore iniquities in society.” See more about Identity is a notoriously contested concept. One can make the deduction that, society is widely affected by its cultural and political history.
The artist reiterates via this extracts from his current work Notion 06:03: “I have questions about what I have become. The national identity I have inherited since I was born and no doubt affirm. I seek to learn how it came into existence for I know that it has not always been — not in the form it is in now, a nation state. What are the events, sentiments and passions which necessitated and produced this form of identity: that its bearer is burdened with and must exude when journeying through this world?” How do people understand the concept of connecting as a citizen of a geographical area which at some point chooses to derive its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign nation?
The artist breaks down his interest in a global perspective as he proceeds to point out that; “I seek to learn the presuppositions (historical, linguistic, cultural, political) under-girding my national identity so I can be able to position myself in relation to the next person who has a different national affiliation.”
Notion: 06 03 was born through a creative developing process at a recent residency the artist pursued at Gasworks. It is not far in relative context to Prison Anxieties; a research series the artist began in 2011 investigating colonial histories. The Bond of 1844 and Ghana’s independence which was in 1957 share the same date, which is 6th of March, and this is of interest in the artist’s work also.
Do not miss out this opportunity with the artist powered by the Studio in collaboration with Foundation for Contemporary Art – Ghana on Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 7:30 pm sharp! The artist will present his current work and there will be an interactive session after his presentation. You can find the Studio inside Forico Mall – Down Papaye, behind Asanka Lokal Restaurant, Osu.
Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh (born 1986) is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Ghana. He is currently pursuing an MFA at the College of Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, (KNUST). Recent exhibitions include Untitled… (3) [Letter To The Sky], Iglesia La Merced, Santiago de Cali; Dear Dakar, Àsìkò 4th, CCA Lagos International Art Programme; and Exit Frame – Du Bois In Our Time, W.E.B Du Bois Center, Accra (all 2014).
kw: Hi, what’s up?
OB: Good. I go by the name Ouedraogo Bouremai. I am an artist, modelist and sculptor. I use wood sometimes but the main material of choice for me is bronze. I want my work to be easily accessible, that’s why I have my office here(at the forefront of L’Atelier Théâtre Burkinabé (ATB) or The Burkinabe Theatre Workshop (ATB)- a theatrical structure that has been involved in research, development and production of art, shows and typical African theatrical approaches mainly based on participation, with the purpose to contribute through artistic expression to the awakening of consciences, for behavioral change and participatory development for the past 32 years (since June 18, 1978)). This same space happens to be the exact spot for my artistic thinking process and fabrication of the art pieces you see on sale, as well as the space for micro exhibitions.
kw: That’s interesting. How many years have you been in this business?
OB: It’s been 14 years. I never studied in an art school. I only followed some school of thought concerning my practice through research and I’ve been very observant. I started under a mentor called Fiavre. He taught me what I needed to know in a year. around that time, I was as well into theatre and I made mud cloth during my free time.
kw: How do you find inspiration:
OB: I find it everywhere around me. Even this conversation might be a source of inspiration. I can make a sculpture of a man with a recorder or anything else.
kw: What informs your choice of materials for your creative process?
OB: The properties of the materials and the energies of transformation from one state to the other to achieve the final product is a powerful ‘message’ for the artist. It feels as if the materials ‘talk’ to me.
kw: What about the political state of your nation? Has it affected your work?
OB: All the unfolding political and social events have contributed to my work one way or the other. I’ve been really inspired by Sankara’s position and fight for the emancipation of women. Some of my sculptures identify symbolically and strongly in the line of fighting for the rights of women.
kw: What message would you deliver to the youth or those interested in art?
OB: I would advise those interested in this art form or any art form for that matter to live their art. The prime and most important thing is to have passion in one’s field and not necessarily be wooed with money. Pleasure for the work should come before love for money. People notice the difference easily and would rather pay for talent than anything else when they are convinced enough. I personally do not take any days off. I always keep busy with work, even when I’m sleeping I sometimes dream up ideas.
kw: Have you exhibited your work elsewhere?
OB: France, Belgium and Germany. It is nice to see other people’s perspectives and creations. It helps a lot.
kw: How much do your pieces cost?
OB: Sculptures range between 30,000 and 1,000,000 CFA. It depends on the size. Sometimes my mood affects things also.
kw: Do you see a distinct connection between art and Africa’s future?
OB: Yes. art is the future of Africa. I don’t know why people are seeking for a future over there, even though we have everything here.