Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace (A Retrospective of Agyeman Ossei, ‘Dota’)

Co-curated by Adwoa Amoah, Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh and Tracy Naa Koshie Thompson

Savannah Center for Contemporary Art & Red Clay. 4th September, 2020- 7th March, 2021

Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace is a retrospective exhibition which traces the lifework of dynamic Ghanaian artist, dramatist, and educator Agyeman Ossei (Dota) to its earliest days in the 1980s. Remaining true to the artist’s irreverent attitude to art, the exhibition amplifies the dialogic relations between the linguistic, structural, and formal elements operative in Ossei’s work— inspired by Asante proverbial culture and philosophy, folk/Highlife music, and poetry translated via collage, drama, literature, painting, sculpture, video, and new media. As an artist whose aesthetic and cultural sensibilities have been shaped as much by formal education as by the “farmers and so called bums” he encountered during the inspired “Koforidua years” in the early 1990s, Ossei experimentally weaves a secular linkage between the traditional, modernist and extra-modernist elements evidenced in his practice. 

This landmark exhibition marks twenty-seven years since the artist’s preceding solo exhibition and will run between Savanna Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA) Tamale and its sister institution, Red Clay, located in neighboring Janna Kpeŋŋ in the Northern Region of Ghana. To complement the main exhibitions, a rich lineup of live and virtual events encompassing other areas of the artist’s interests, ranging from musical concerts, theater, workshops, film screenings, and many more, will be programmed throughout the year. These events are designed to adhere to the requisite COVID-19 guidelines provided by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and the Government of Ghana. There will also be a radio play, translated into Dagbani, which will circulate on airwaves, podcasts, and digital listening stations in Ghana and around the world. 

The exhibition acknowledges the kind support of the Center for National Culture in Tamale, blaxTARLINES KUMASI, Foundation for Contemporary Art – Ghana, and Exit Frame Collective. 

Virtual tour video of ‘Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace (A Retrospective of Agyeman Ossei ‘Dota’)’, the second major retrospective exhibition organised by SCCA Tamale and Red Clay. 

Click for more videos, information, and curatorial statement.

SOUTH SOUTH THINK TANK: Institutional Hybridity.
Curated by The Showroom, London

Convened by Director Elvira Dyangani Ose

For whom is all of this for?

Participating organisations in this panel hold themselves to work in non-hierarchical structures, when it comes to addressing their audiences. This session will seek to address, among other issues: Who is the ‘WE’ each project invokes? How do we build structures around specific contexts, audiences, their desires and goals? How do we galvanise art and non-art audiences to engage in a set of ideas or commitments?

Moreover, if the ultimate goal is to support a democratic artistic experience, how does participation work and thrive? What roles do authorship and agency play in space-making and activating subjectivities?

Panelists:
•Prateek Raja & Priyanka Raja (Experimenter, Kolkata, India)

•Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh (blaxTARLINES KUMASI, Ghana)

•Pablo Guardiola (Beta-Local, Puerto Rico, San Juan)

Moderator: Fernanda Brenner (Pivó, São Paulo, Brazil)

Register for Zoom webinar here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_YjvuVQA9S2qsZFdktgVzPQ

Date: 24th February, 2021
Time: 1pm GMT

For more information visit: https://south-south.art/talks/

The sixth session of Asia Art Archive’s Life Lessons invites Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh and Zeyno Pekünlü, two artists who are committed to collective pedagogical models. In this session, they discuss how they have developed these models within, outside, and despite the university, and the ways they contribute to larger solidarity networks in their cities and beyond. 

Read more via Asia Art Archive.

Life Lessons #6: Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh & Zeyno Pekünlü | Working Collectively 

October 20 – October 31, 2020

Accra, Ghana

CritLab facilitators and participants visit ADA \ Contemporary Art Gallery in Accra. Photo by Elolo Bosoka.

CRITLAB is an experimental professional development programme concerned with growing and sustaining criticality in the intellectual infrastructure of art practice in Ghana by building a network of artists, curators, and critics who desire to push the boundaries of art as such, art thought, production and exhibition making in local and international spheres of contemporary art. Tailored towards independent and self-driven practice, CritLab selects participants based on an open call system. 

Steeped in the ethos of peer-to-peer learning the intensive syllabus brings together academics, publishers, historians, artists, curators, writers, architects, and other professionals from institutions in Ghana and around the world who engage in practical and intellectual exchanges via individual and group advisement sessions, readings, lectures, studio/site visits, thematic roundtable discussions, screenings, performative presentations, etc. The broad theoretical and professional scope of the programme highlights the pragmatics of professional work (portfolio development, exhibition proposals, publishing, graduate study, research models/methods, documentation of work, etc.); creating infrastructure in conditions of hopelessness; constructive approaches to building relationships with other professionals and institutions, locally and internationally; understanding the theoretical underpinnings of art history as inherited from imperialist structures and the necessity of emancipating professional practice;  coming to terms with the dynamics of the global art market; and incorporating more ways of creative thinking beyond human-centered approaches to making and thinking about art. 

Due to the global health crisis the inaugural edition of CritLab (2020) focused on the climate of Ghanaian contemporary art. For a duration of twelve days, twelve participants based in Ghana were selected to reflect on the commitments and responsibilities associated with making art, curating, and writing about art in the 21st century. CritLab is an initiative of Foundation for Contemporary Art-Ghana, in partnership with Exit Frame Collective, blaxTARLINES KUMASI, and Savannah Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA), Tamale. 

CritLab 2020 Lead Faculty

Adwoa Amoah (Artist, Co-director of FCA-Ghana), Ato Annan (Artist, Co-director of FCA-Ghana), Bernard Akoi–Jackson, Ph.D (Artist, lecturer at Department of Painting and Sculpture, KNUST, Ghana), Kelvin Haizel (Artist, Ghana), Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh (Curator, Ghana), Nontobeko Ntombela (Curator, lecturer at the Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa).

Guest Faculty

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Ph.D (Curator, founder of SAVVY Contemporary, Germany), George Buma Ampratwum (Historian, lecturer at Department of Painting and Sculpture, KNUST, Ghana), Ibrahim Mahama (Artist, Founder of SCCA Tamale and Red Clay, Ghana), Fatric Bewong (Artist, Ghana), Selom Kudjie (Curator, Artistic Director of SCCA Tamale and Red Clay, Ghana), Dorothy Akpene Amenuke, Ph.D (Artist, lecturer at Department of Painting and Sculpture, KNUST, Ghana),  Nana Osei Kwadwo (Journalist/New Media Strategist, Ghana), Chiara Figone (Editor, founder of  Archive, a non-profit publishing organization, Italy/Senegal), Renzo Martens (Artist, The Netherlands/DR. Congo), Shane Aslan Selzer (Artist, teacher at Parsons, The New School for Design, USA), and Baerbel Muller (Architect, Associate professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna).

Participants:

Yaa Addae, Kwabena Agyare, Hanson Akatti, Nana Adwoa Frema Amoabeng, Jesse Joojo Johnson, David Kojo Derban, Isshaq Ismail, Sharifah Issaka, Blebo Michael Jackson, Blaykyi Kenyah, Sheilla Aishetu Nelson, and Prince Amanfo.

Project Co-ordinating Team:

Jade Tachie – Menson, Franklin Yohuno, Kimathi Calistus Agbanu, Bright Ahadzivia, Mallet Elolo Bosoka and Micheal Sowah.

Funding:

Foundation for Arts Initiatives (FfAI), Goethe-Institut, Ghana, Institut Francais, Accra, and Tijay Mohammed. 

For more information, please email info@fcaghana.org, call +233 592399923, or visit our project page: https://critlab.fcaghana.org/ 

#fcaghana #exitframe #sccatamale #blaxtarlines #critlab2020 #contemporaryart #GoetheInstituteGhana #FoundationforArtsInitiatives #artoftijay #InstituteFrancaiseGhana #creativity

Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace (A Retrospective of Agyeman Ossei, ‘Dota’)

Co-curated by Adwoa Amoah, Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh and Tracy Naa Koshie Thompson

Press Release

Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace is a retrospective exhibition which traces the lifework of dynamic Ghanaian artist, dramatist, and educator Agyeman Ossei (Dota) to its earliest days in the 1980s. Remaining true to the artist’s irreverent attitude to art, the exhibition amplifies the dialogic relations between the linguistic, structural, and formal elements operative in Ossei’s work— inspired by Asante proverbial culture and philosophy, folk/Highlife music, and poetry translated via collage, drama, literature, painting, sculpture, video, and new media. As an artist whose aesthetic and cultural sensibilities have been shaped as much by formal education as by the “farmers and so-called bums” he encountered during the inspired “Koforidua years” in the early 1990s, Ossei experimentally weaves a secular linkage between the traditional, modernist and extra-modernist elements evidenced in his practice.

This landmark exhibition marks twenty-seven years since the artist’s preceding solo exhibition and will run between Savanna Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA) Tamale and its sister institution, Red Clay, located in neighboring Janna Kpeŋŋ in the Northern Region of Ghana. To complement the main exhibitions, a rich lineup of live and virtual events encompassing other areas of the artist’s interests, ranging from musical concerts, theater, workshops, film screenings, and many more, will be programmed throughout the year. These events are designed to adhere to the requisite COVID-19 guidelines provided by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and the Government of Ghana. There will also be a radio play, translated into Dagbani, which will circulate on airwaves, podcasts, and digital listening stations in Ghana and around the world.

The exhibition acknowledges the kind support of the Center for National Culture in Tamale, blaxTARLINES KUMASI, Foundation for Contemporary Art – Ghana, and Exit Frame Collective.

For more information contact: t: (+233) 037-209-6210 | m: (+233) 0202654324
w: http://www.sccatamale.org | e: sccatamale@gmail.com | IG & FB: @sccatamale, @redclay_studio

Agyeman Ossei (Dota) bio: 

Agyeman Ossei (b. 1960) is an artist and senior lecturer who has provided administrative and academic leadership as head of the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Ghana, Legon from 2014 until his voluntary retirement in 2017. He was the artistic director of Abibi- gromma— resident theater group at the University of Ghana, Legon— from 2005-2009 and served as acting Executive Director of the National Theater of Ghana between 2012 and 2014. He has directed and produced concerts with legendary ‘Palm wine’ Highlife musician Agya Koo Nimo and the National Symphony Orchestra as well as skits and jingles for radio in local Ghana- ian languages such as Twi, Dagbani, Frafra, Ewe and Wala. Ossei has contributed to numerous academic journals and publications worldwide and has translated and adapted literary works into theatre plays— notable among them Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born, Osiris Rising and The Healers. He has also directed the play Ananse and the Gum Man by Joe De-Graft se- lected for the Ghana @50 Theater Classics at the National Theater (2007). His two solo exhibi- tions ‘Reviewed Traditions in Ghanaian Painting’ and ‘Proverbs: An Exhibition of Paintings and Sculptures’ respectively happened in 1989 and 1993 in Accra. In 2017 he participated in the large scale group exhibition Orderly Disorderly organised by blaxTARLINES KUMASI at the Museum of Science and Technology in Accra, Ghana. 

About SCCA Tamale:
SCCA Tamale is an artist-run institution that functions as project space, exhibition and research hub, cultural repository and artists’ residency. It is the initiative of world-renowned Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama as a contribution to the development and expansion of infrastructure for contemporary art in Ghana. Since its opening in 2019, the institution has dedicated its programming to unravelling modernist and contemporary histories in Ghanaian art beginning with its twentieth-century progenitors. Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace is the sophomore exhibition in this regard. Affiliated to blaxTARLINES KUMASI, SCCA works to produce and share knowledge through exhibitions, workshops, publications, and allied activities.

SCCA opening reception: Friday, 4th September, 2020 @ 17:30hrs

Opening hours: Monday – Thursday, 11 am – 8 pm
Friday – closed
Saturday – Sunday, 11am – 6 pm

Closing date: Thursday, 7th March, 2021

Red Clay opening: Saturday, 5th September, 2020 @ 17: 30hrs

Opening hours: Monday – Thursday, 11 am – 8 pm,
Friday – closed
Saturday – Sunday, 11am – 6 pm

Closing date: Thursday, 7th March, 2021

Venues:
1. SCCA, SSNIT Junction, adjacent St. John of the Cross School, Tamale.

2. Red Clay, Janna Kpenŋ (Giana on Google Map, on the Nanton Road).