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Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

Ghana Architecture News - May 13, 2019 - 03:36   1095 views

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

The first Ghana Pavilion has been opened at the 58th International Art Exhibition of Venice Art Biennale to the public on Saturday 11 May 2019 under the patronage of Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The Venice Art Biennale, themed as "May You Live In Interesting Times", takes place from 11th May to 24th November 2019 in Venice. 

Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye-designed first Ghana Pavilion, entitled "Ghana Freedom," after the song composed by E.T. Mensah on the eve of the independence of the new nation in 1957, examines the legacies and trajectories of that freedom by six artists, across three generations. 

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

Felicia Abban. Untitled (Portraits and Self-Portraits) (c. 1960–70s). Digital images generated from original prints. 50 × 40 cm. Courtesy the artist. Image © David Levene

Rooted both in Ghanaian culture and its diasporas, the pavilion exhibition will include large-scale installations by El Anatsui and Ibrahim Mahama; representation and portraiture by prominent photographer Felicia Abban and painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; and a three-channel film projection by John Akomfrah and a video sculpture by Selasi Awusi Sosu. 

Situated in the Artiglierie of the historic Arsenale, in the pavilion each artist will exhibit in elliptically-shaped interconnected spaces, which draw inspiration and are plastered with locally-sourced earth, from classical structures in Ghana.

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

El Anatsui. Yaw Berko (2019). Aluminum printing plates, bottle tops and copper wires. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Image © David Levene

In addition, the Ghana Pavilion exhibition will include a publication with a preface by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; foreword by Honorable Catherine Afeku, and contributions by Sir David Adjaye, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Okwui Enwezor, Taiye Selasi, Hakeem Adam, Adjoa Armah, Mae-ling Lokko, Kuukuwa Manful, Larry Ossei-Mensah, and Mavis Tetteh-Ocloo.  

There will be a series of platforms during the 58th International Art Exhibition in Venice, and "Ghana Freedom" will travel from Venice to Accra after the closure of the Exhibition in November. 

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

El Anatsui. Earth Shedding Its Skin (2019). Bottle caps and copper wires. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Image © David Levene

"Being able to show the diversity and creativity of Ghana on an international scale is an incredible achievement, and one which showcases the talent that we have to offer," said Sir David Adjaye.

"The commitment and inspiration shown by the President in commissioning this pavilion is a testament to what our country has to offer the art community."

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

El Anatsui.Opening of Time (2019) Bottle caps and copper wires. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Image © David Levene

Nana Oforiatta Ayim, curator of the pavilion, said: "It means a lot for us to have our first national pavilion at such a narrative-building event as the Venice Biennale, especially at this moment. The conversation about nations is broadening in the face of issues of migrations; of us redefining our connections to our diasporas throughout our ‘year of return’; of discussing what it might mean to have our cultural objects returned, and how we thus might redefine ourselves in the world; and of finally moving out of the ‘postcolonial’ moment into one we have yet to envision."

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

Ibrahim Mahama. A Straight Line Through the Carcass of History 1649 (2016–19). Smoked fish mesh, wood, cloth, and archival materials. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and White Cube. Image © David Levene

Honorable Catherine Afeku, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture said: "This is a historic moment for us in Ghana. Arts and culture are the very soul of a nation, and with our maiden entry to the Venice Biennale, under the leadership of His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I can say, we have arrived."

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Just Amongst Ourselves (2019) series of paintings oil on linen and canvas. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Image © David Levene

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Just Amongst Ourselves (2019) series of paintings oil on linen and canvas. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist; Corvi-Mora, London; and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Image © David Levene

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

Ibrahim Mahama. A Straight Line Through the Carcass of History 1649 (2016–19). Smoked fish mesh, wood, cloth, and archival materials. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and White Cube. Image © David Levene

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

John Akomfrah. The Elephant in the Room – Four Nocturnes (2019) Three-channel HD color video installation, 7.1 sound. Four Nocturnes is a new commission for the inaugural Ghana pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. Co-commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Ghana, Sharjah Art Foundation and Smoking Dogs Films with support from Lisson Gallery. Image © David Levene

Ghana's first National Pavilion designed by David Adjaye opens at Venice Art Biennale

John Akomfrah. The Elephant in the Room – Four Nocturnes (2019) Three-channel HD color video installation, 7.1 sound. Four Nocturnes is a new commission for the inaugural Ghana pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. Co-commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Ghana, Sharjah Art Foundation and Smoking Dogs Films with support from Lisson Gallery. Image © David Levene

Exhibition facts

Commissioner: Ministry Of Tourism, Arts And Culture
Curator: Nana Oforiatta Ayim
Architect: Sir David Adjaye OBE
Strategic Advisor: Okwui Enwezor

Top image: Felicia Abban. Untitled (Portraits and Self-Portraits) (c. 1960–70s). Digital images generated from original prints. 50 × 40 cm.
Courtesy the artist. Image © David Levene

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