ARTS & COLLECTIBLES
The Ghana Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, under the patronage of Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was a true show-stopper.
Installation view of The Ghana Pavilion. Black Star – The Museum as Freedom at La Biennale di Venezia.
Featuring Na Chainkua.
Photo: NLC Ghana. © NLC Ghana.
Following its highly acclaimed inaugural participation at the 2019 Biennale Arte, Ghana presented the Black Star — The Museum as Freedom exhibition at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Titled after the Black Star that symbolizes Ghana through its flag and most important monument, connecting Africa with its diasporas through Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line and his Back-to-Africa movement. Revived now in Ghana as Beyond the Return; as well as for Pan-Africanism and anti-colonialism with the symbol described as the Lodestar of African Freedom. The pavilion examines new constellations of this freedom across time, technology, and borders. Designed by architect DK Osseo Asare, and curated by Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Director of ANO Institute of Arts & Knowledge in Accra and Director at Large of Ghana’s Museums and Cultural Heritage, the exhibition featured large-scale installations by Na Chainkua Reindorf, Afroscope, and Diego Araúja.
Na Chainkua Reindorf takes masquerade and secret society traditions that historically were predominantly male and created her mythology of Mawu Nyonu, a fictional secret society made of seven women, at one with the elements around them.The notion of oneness is taken further by Afroscope’s work Ashe, which explores the spirit that runs through all the elements, using technology as a translator of the flow of life, as exemplified by water.
Installation view of The Ghana Pavilion. Black Star – The Museum as Freedom at
La Biennale di Venezia. Photo: David Levene. © David Levene.
The theme also underpins Diego Araúja’s work, A Salt Congress, in which the Atlantic Ocean, which served to separate those taken from the shores of West Africa to its diasporas, now acts as a unifier, the birthplace of a new creole. Nana Oforiatta Ayim states: “Ghana in its 65th year still grapples with political, economic, cultural, social and knowledge systems not made of or for its contexts. Systems created within its communities over thousands of years were deemed inferior to ones termed ‘universal’ by dominant powers. As we outgrow and move beyond ill-fitting systems; new ones, not yet defined, that draw on rich histories, not with nostalgia but with discernment of hindsight and experience; are forming.”
“Each of the artists’ work is connected to the theme of the main exhibition Milk of Dreams, they are each of them future builders, creating new possibilities and worlds even and especially in this time of chaos: by exploring our spiritual connections with technology; by centering and expanding representations of women’s bodies and beings; by looking into how we rebuild relationships with our environment and each other.”