Silence between the Lines: Anagrams of emancipated Futures

Lines and Spaces

The spaces between lines can be understood as negations of the respective spaces occupied by those lines. By the same token, the silent pulses in the respective “in-between” spaces can be imagined as instances of a second negation; the double negation. In Classical logic and historicist worldviews, the double negation takes an entity back to its beginning; to its primordial past, to that same spot and moment of its birthing. The entity is always self-identical with its double negation, [P=not(notP)], and the principles of non-contradiction and sufficient reason are affirmed. Phenomenologically, this is a distinctive form of nostalgia, à la Svetlana Boyme, restorative nostalgia. But not so in dialectical logic or roughly, in the paraconsistent logic of the Brazilian School, or even in commonplace experience in present-day paleo-Chinacentric capitalist economies. Here, the double negation invents a future instead of returning an entity back to its past. And this future is not only ontologically different from its past; it necessarily changes the fabric of the past for the negated entity already includes within it configurations of its own past. The past can now be understood in terms of this future, in terms of this new entity. Borges summarizes this beautifully, “each writer [artist] creates his [own] precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future”. It is in this sense that Adzraku’s paradoxical installation of 1996, Impossibilities, the mascot of this exhibition, can make sense retroactively through the visions of the younger artists presented here.

Silence and Anagrams

  Sankɔfa bird_left2


A deliberate twist to the familiar Ghanaian Sankͻfa [“go back for it”] legend could go thus; “If one has good grasp of the emergent future then it matters less which direction she, he or it faces”. It seems to me that the different and apparently contradictory directions taken by the artists of this exhibition affirm the spirit of this deliberate misreading. It has been customary to read the Sankͻfa rebus in historicist-contextualist terms as a mythical bird which returns to a forgotten past in order to reclaim in a nostalgic way what it might have left behind. In my new reading however, Sankofa attempts to grasp what it might have forgotten from futures that are to come. In this new spirit, the varied visions of the exhibiting artists might be best interpreted as anagrams of emancipated futures. The degrees of freedom of these anagrams expand with the multiplicity of “alphabets” at the disposal of the engaged anagrammatist. However, like the new Sankofa bird, these artists have no privileged route or direction from which, or towards which to face, to return to, to look at, to forget, to remember, to erase or to have a good grasp of the coming futures. The Silence between the Lines exhibition introduces the unsettled visions of these anagrammatists of l’avenir or, with due deference to Pierre Bayard, plagiarists of emancipated futures which “lie dormant in the present as its hidden potential”[1]. Like Deleuze says of Proust, the visions of these artists and their kin “occupy a place in time which is incommensurable with the one that they [occupy] in space”. To my mind, this is the spirit of the so-called “New Contemporary” emerging from the Kumasi College of Art.

Silence is not absence!

kąrî’kchä seid’ou


**Read Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh’s response to the curatorial statement here.



[1] I owe this phrase to Slavoj Žižek in The year of dreaming dangerously. Verso, 2012