I met Marko93 for the first time at Alliance Francaise d’Accra on his last day in town, after he had been around spraying graffiti on walls from the prominent streets of Kumasi to the crannies of Nima. He had been in town for close to two weeks and was again on his way to Nima to do yet another mural though he had less than 10 hours to his flight departure time.
I had to meet the Musical Lunatics band for a rehearsal for the November 7th Phreak Out Live show; a show put up by DJ Keyzz and the Phreak Out Live guys featuring stellar rappers Ewudzi and Dex Kwasi, intriguing dancers and gymnasts, Serge Atukwei and the Golokal group, enthralling acts like Wanlov and A.I, Azizaa; an energetic female dubstep musician, myself and a lineup of dope DJs and performers as well as a live band doling out an eclectic mix of Trap, Grime, Dubstep, Drum n Bass, House, Soca, Rock, Dancehall and Hip-hop music. Phreak Out Live would turn out to be one of the most musically relevant events of this year.
The rehearsal was supposed to be at 12noon. I got there at 8am – So non-Ghanaian of me! It was Thursday November 6th 2014, the weather was as cool as a morning kiss. I was wearing my long sleeved T-shirt, jeans and Champion sneakers. This guy was not too close to 5ft, wore jeans shorts and carried a hugely packed backpack which had spray cans poking out. No one should tell you he was an artist!
I approached him and said hi! I mentioned that I heard his graffiti workshops had gone well. He told me further about his experiences at Kumasi and how the people were so warm and helpful. He said he was on his way to Nima to work. I said I had time on my hand and could tag along. He was okay with that so we headed off to the road side to catch a cab. He was thankful that I bargained to get a fair rate of 5 GHc. “Obrunis do not get a fair price on these streets;” He said. I chuckled. We both spoke diced English plus French.
We got to Nima gutter area by 9:03am. I remember it was around this time that he mentioned that the 93 in his name represented the code of where he comes from; Seine-Saint-Denis in France. The only visible worn out graffiti streaks around Nima gutter were that of Shatta Wale; the popular musician’s effigy had been sprayed carelessly on the wall of a public urinal. Marko93 had been there the previous day and finished a mural which had a Muslim woman wearing a turban and other designs with Ghanaian graffiti artist, Mohammed AKA MOH. Aside MOH and Selorm Jay of YoyoTinz, we were joined by Baba, a young videographer and resident of Nima who took us on a brief tour till we located a bare wall which was suitable according to Marko’s discretion. We asked permission from the owner (of course) and Marko went straight to work.
We were in the middle of this art piece, when this gentleman from nowhere looking furious started saying all sorts of things in Hausa language. Baba talked to him into understanding that it was just an art piece to beautify the surroundings. The guy, apparently thought it had some spiritual connotations and couldn’t understand that we chose that particular wall and not any other for the work. He walked off into the narrow corners and was never to be seen again. Delighted kids filed quietly in the small space beside the wall admiring the colours that layered the surface. A few of them would later wield small branded torches given to them by Marko93 as representations of sabers inclusive in the detail of the mural for a photoshoot.
“To create light graffiti, you take a long exposure, and use a light source to paint graffiti in the frame;” Marko lectured. The history of light painting; one of Marko’s signature techniques, dates back to 1889 when Étienne-Jules Marey and Georges Demeny met when Demeny enrolled in a physiology course being taught by Marey. In 1889 Demeny attached incandescent bulbs to the joints of an assistant and created the first known light painting photograph “Pathological Walk From in Front”.
Marko also did a mural at Alliance Francaise d’Accra supported by MOH. That particular piece had an Akuaba in the centre. Akua’ba (from Akua, a day-name for a female born on a Wednesday, and ba, child; hence, Akua’s child) refers to the fertility doll carved from wood by the Ashanti. Other works of his include Adinkra symbols as well as colloquial words or sayings he picked on the streets on his visit. Visit Marko93 here: https://www.facebook.com/marko93darkvapor