At the turn of the century many artistic and curatorial endeavours were pointing towards the expanded field of art as the horizon with more possibilities than the Modernist and Post-modernist canons could bequeath. My encounter, in the early 2000s, with kąrî’kạchä seid’ou’s Emancipatory Art Teaching project during my undergraduate years at KNUST oriented me to doubly come to terms with the potentialities of this expanded field, and to espouse the risks involved in testing its limits— i.e. to explore it to the abyss to find out what other horizons may be immanent, adjacent, and/or beyond it. The moment I came to understand this ominous, vulnerable, precarious, and vitalist undertone of his teaching method was when art as such became meaningful to me.”— Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh. 

Earthy Structures and Contingent Breakthroughs 

Solo exhibition by Frederick Ebenezer Okai

Curated by Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh

28th May – 28th October, 2022

Opening reception: 28th May, 2022 @ 4:00pm GMT

Gyamadudu Museum, Kwabre-Heman, Ashanti Region, Ghana 

Curatorial Statement

Inspired by both autochtonous and industrial systems of pottery production Frederick Ebenezer Okai’s solo exhibition, Earthy Structures and Contingent Breakthroughs (2022), assimilates ethnographic traces, monuments, and signs [re]assembling them into new forms such as videos, sculptures, site-responsive sound installations, immersive virtual reality and spatial experiences. 

Nested within the interior and surrounding spaces of the inter-linking domes of the Gyamadudu Museum are Okai’s experimental works complicating ceramics and pottery as we know it. The artist’s improvised, quasi-ethnographic approach [re]stages and [re]imagines historical and existing pottery practices in Ghana. On the one hand, the artist has travelled “across the country to scout for pottery objects from different spaces [breaking] them into shards only to reconstruct them into new objects.” These relics have been collected from regions including Bawku (Upper East region), Sirigu (Upper East region), Afari (Ashanti region), Bonakyire (Bono East Region), Jejeti (Eastern region), and Fesi (Volta region), and reference pottery traditions which date as far back as the nineteenth century. On the other hand, the “new objects” are not always heterotopias of broken shards assembling a plurality of times, cultures, and places, originally foreign to each other, into singular montages; they are also remakes and post-produced bricolages constructed from a wide array of readymades including welded pieces of galvanized steel wire meshes merged with average and larger than life-sized vessels, and repurposed ceramic objects (cups, plates, bowls, jars, etc.) used and imported into the country from Asia, Europe, and North America. 

By activating interior wallscapes, entrances, ceilings, and floors within the exhibition environment— inspired by rural and postmodern architecture, pottery cemeteries, and indigenous kiln designs— the exhibition invites the audience into a fictional world of discovery with structural (modular, part-by-part), architectural, and relational or contingent encounters. Insofar as fiction etymologically points us to the act of forging, the ensemble of utilitarian, ritualistic, mundane, and ephemeral objects transformed by the artist acquire sculptural, spatial, aural, haptic and other transgressive tendencies. 

The works are experiments in the strictest sense of the term. That is to say, beginning a process without preempting the outcome; or embarking on a journey on which the artist must learn from his creation at every moment in time so as to understand where it may lead; that at any point in the process the works simultaneously exist as complete and incomplete things, always espousing the potential of becoming more than what they are at any particular moment (complemented by the artist’s preference for biscuit-firing all the clay objects on display). It is this experimental value adventurously finding expression in the works— simultaneously incorporating traditional and institutional (modern) pottery methods— and striving beyond them, which signifies their breakthrough from conventional limits… 

Earthy Structures and Contingent Breakthroughs is dedicated to Okai’s mentor, the ceramicist and educator James Kwame Amoah (b. 1943), retired senior lecturer of the Department of Industrial Art (Ceramics Section), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), for the warm guidance and mentorship he has provided for the artist over the years.

Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh

Curator

Abstract:

According to Walter Benjamin, the historical materialist unlike the historicist is the one who politicizes history by brushing it “against the grain” while confronting the horrors that are latent in archival documents. With this background, and apropos of Jacques Lacan’s register theory, Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh analyzes Kelvin Haizel’s most recent body of work in the solo exhibition titled Archive of Experiences (2022). The author discusses the artist’s realist/iconoclastic explorations into the album of 352 photographs taken in south-east Asia between 1861-1868. The album was owned by the prominent Duncker merchant family from Hamburg until 1984 when it was donated to the collection of the Museum am Rothenbaum— Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK) in Germany. 

Read full text here: https://iubeezy.wordpress.com/texts/theartistashistoricalmaterialist/

Title: blaxTARLINES: Giving Commons Refuge and Refuge Commons  

Date: 26th May, 2022

Venue: MARKK Museum am Rothenbaum Kulturen und Künste der Welt, Hamburg, Germany

Time: 19:00 (5pm GMT)

Synopsis: 

blaxTARLINES KUMASI is a trans-generational and trans-cultural community affiliated to the Department of Painting & Sculpture at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana. It is an experimental incubator of contemporary art and a sharing community. With lineage of radical art and community projects dating back to the 1990s, the coalition operates on the universalist principle of preemptive equality towards economic and intellectual emancipation. Finding kinship in the spirit put forward in Fred Moten’s and Stefano Harney’s theory of the “Undercommons” (Moten & Harney 2013), Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh will speak about the fugitive model of art education and art practice implemented by blaxTARLINES KUMASI in Ghana to tactically respond to crisis points such as the general lack of public funding for contemporary art practice in the region. 

The events are broadly programmed as part of the 8th Photo Triennale in Hamburg, curated by Koyo Kouoh and a team of associate curators namely Rasha Salti, Gabriella Bechhurst Feijoo, Oluremi C. Onabanjo and Cale Garrido.

Bio:

Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh is a curator and critic based in Kumasi, Ghana. His work is compelled by the revolutionary hope proposed by artist-pedagogue karî’kạchä seid’ou to “transform art from the status of commodity to gift”. He is one of the artistic advisors for the 59th Venice Biennale (International Art Exhibition in 2022), under the artistic direction of Cecilia Alemani. Ohene-Ayeh co-organizes Kelas Bareng/Joint Class (since 2020)— an ongoing online experimental educational initiative between Gudskul (Indonesia), Städelschule (Germany), blaxTARLINES KUMASI (KNUST, Ghana) and Nordland Kunst og filmhøgskole (Norway). He is recipient of the ACASA Award for Curatorial Excellence (2021), and headed the curatorial team for Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace (A Retrospective of Agyeman Ossei ‘Dota’) organised by Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) Tamale and Red Clay, in Ghana (2020-2021). He also co-curated the 12th edition of Bamako Encounters: Biennale of African Photography themed Streams of Consciousness: A Concatenation of Dividuals in Mali (2019-2020). Ohene-Ayeh is presently a lecturer at the Department of Painting & Sculpture, KNUST in Kumasi. 

Photo caption: CritLab 2021 open studio critique session at Kyeremateng Park, KNUST campus, Kumasi.

Dear family and friends in the arts, Exit Frame Collective (Kelvin Haizel, Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, Bernard Akoi-Jackson, Adwoa Amoah and Ato Annan) is knocking on your door to humbly ask for your support to continue running it’s annual professional development programme dubbed CritLab. The first two editions took place in Accra and Kumasi respectively, and this third edition is scheduled to happen in Tamale from 1st to 15th November, 2022. We run this program at no cost to participants. We provide meals, accommodation, transportation and production for all participants for absolutely FREE. It is our desire to continue to do so in the blaxTARLINES spirit of sharing knowledge as a gift and not a commodity. We humbly ask that you support our campaign with however little you can. Thank you immensely for your generosity.

Please follow this link to make your donation: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-critlab2022-in-tamale-ghana/x/28966944#/

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This November, Exit Frame Collective will organize the third edition of CritLab in Tamale, Ghana, in partnership with Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA Tamale), Foundation for Contemporary Art – Ghana (FCA Ghana), and blaxTARLINES KUMASI. The first and second editions respectively took place at the University of Ghana, Accra, and Opoku Ware II Museum, KNUST, Kumasi.

This edition of CritLab will run for fifteen days, from 1st  to 15th November, 2022, and will be hosted at SCCA Tamale. The professional development programme aims to build a network of art professionals who desire to push the boundaries of global art thought, production, criticism, and exhibition making. As Exit Frame Collective’s flagship project, the annual peer-to-peer pedagogic programme forms part of the collective’s efforts to broaden the critical intellectual infrastructure of professional art practice in Ghana. CritLab is open to 12 participants— artists, curators, and critics/art writers— based in Ghana (this includes non-Ghanaians who may be currently based in Ghana) and is designed as an intensive programme adaptable to the framework of the applicant’s practice.

The program rigorously absorbs participants in a schedule of site visits, seminars, screenings, thematic roundtable discussions, presentations, and open studios that lean into critical studio practice while addressing the processes involved in developing concepts, exhibition proposals, and professional profiles related to portfolio development, graduate study, critical writing, documentation of work, accessing global resources, social networking, among others. 

We humbly request your support to make this edition a successful one. Please find more information about the program at: http://critlab.exitframecollective.org/

The video below forms part of public programming for Partisan Cultures: Weapons of Mass Creation (2/10/2022). Conceptualized by Paula Barreiro López and Gal Kirn in collaboration with Aziza Harmel Organized by Kunsthalle Wien in cooperation with Volkstheater Wien

Panel 2: Potent Ways of Averting Political Melancholy With: Jihan El Tahri, Aziza Harmel, Kirill Medvedev, Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh (online)

This panel looks into the hybrid nature of partisanship and analyzes the—still ongoing—transformation of the figure of the freedom fighter, who overturns existing ways of doing and thinking. The freedom fighter’s audacity, preparedness, and enthusiasm are in fact necessary for decisive and radical action. The panelists will focus on radical pedagogies and potent methodologies by looking at emancipatory moments from the past, as well as looking at the search for new languages and modes of storytelling as a way to resist the current political melancholia and turn it into novel revolutionary theories and practices. https://kunsthallewien.at/en/event/pa…