ARTIST: Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh
ARTWORK/YEAR: Voyage of (Re) Discovery (2015)
RESEARCHER: Fabio Vanin
Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh curated the Voyage of [Re] Discovery at Nubuke Foundation at Ussher Fort between 5th March and 26th April to mark Ghana’s 58th independence celebration. He is a conceptual artist and curator. His practice is multifarious and includes installation, performance and site specific/socially engaged projects. Based in Ghana, Ohene-Ayeh is interested in exploring the, “ambiguities in Accra’s contemporary sign systems and social identity.” He speaks of his works as in constant negotiation for relevance, “in the world of images and ideas.” He curated the Voyage of [Re] Discovery at Nubuke Foundation at Ussher Fort to mark Ghana’s 58th independence celebration, occupying different spaces of the Fort, reconceptualising and confronting with the meaning of the place.Visual artists, poets and writers from Ghana, Uganda, South Africa and USA come together in the exploration of histories hidden yet glaring constant reminders of the layered past.In this exhibition Nubuke Foundation collaborates with artist Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh as curator and the heritage conservation team from the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board.
Voyage of [Re]Discovery - commemorating Ghana's 58th Independence Day celebration - aligns with Nkrumah's ethos and interrogates, beyond Ghana's perspective, what it means to be a post-colonial subject whose understanding of history as well as perception of identity is mediated through a consistent barrage of [mis]representations in literature and the media. It posits identity as a state in crisis, and history as contestable narratives which ought to be wrested from Eurocentric epistemologies and articulated through the voice of the hitherto colonized subject.This exhibition is a search for meaning. It interrogates how history shapes our contemporary world. Departing from the point that ethnicities have integrated to form nations whose collective history erupted out of a brutally violent struggle to preserve their intrinsic rights, the exhibition gives agency to the colonized subject who inflects, pieces together and re-members the emotional events that shape their national history. Beginning one's cultural/national history from this violent moment can no doubt be traumatizing. This trauma, sustained in the subject's consciousness, permeates the collective psyche with unpredictable outworkings.
The works Ohene-Ayeh creates are influenced by poetry, music, dance, theatre, sculpture, and painting. His installations allow the investigation into concepts such as space, perception, subject-object relationship, the maker and the made. He nurtures a sense of nostalgia of his environment. His works are designed to invite or provoke the viewer to move and [sometimes] feel. He thinks of his works as the way to track the unending developments around him. He keeps track of his changing environment.
Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh creates site-specific installations, design and socially engaged projects that explore how specific events in the colonial history of Ghana continue to shape and affect Ghanaian identity. He explores the historicity of districts in the city Accra that were once a seat of Dutch and British colonial power. Using the Dutch-built Ussher Fort Prison as a location for multiple installations and interventions, Ohene-Ayeh created makeshift routes, spaces and obstacles throughout the site. Exploring themes of death, escape, anxiety, freedom and liberation, colonial memory and trauma were pieced together through a process of re-construction and re-remembering.
Image Credits: Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh
All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.