Ghanaian Artist El Anatsui, First African Appointed at London’s Royal Academy
Ghanaian artist El Anatsui has been appointed honorary academician by London’s Royal Academy. Best-known for his monumental fabrics made with thousands of small metal pieces, he’s the first African to receive the accolade. Question: what does this mean for African art?
The recent “rise of African Fashion” within global media is a bit of a dead tune in these parts. In Ghana, style has always been big news. The Internet makes all the difference now. Some fifteen years ago, you wouldn’t see the freshest Ghanaian designs on Instagram or Tumblr because all the fresh styles were on the streets.
The best designs are still on the streets. Street design shops, big and small, stock some of the finest locally made outfits in the city. Every minute someone from Ghana is posting a Look Book online allowing thousands of people around the world to tap into Ghana’s style portal. Let’s not forget designer labels like Louis Vuitton slipping fashion aesthetics from Ghana onto the runway without acknowledging the origins.
Ghana has a long tradition of customized clothing dating as far back as the pre-colonial era. Several waves of freed slaves from Bahia in Brazil landed on the shores of West Africa in the mid nineteenth centuries, particularly Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. The ones who came to Accra were given land and GA citizenship by King Tackie Tawiah I in 1836. The Tabom people, as these returnees were later called, arrived with a lot of skills ranging from military tactics, architecture, carpentry, irrigation engineering to tailored clothing. The renowned Morton Family are descendants of the Tabom people. The Mortons were expert merchants and tailors, credited with setting up Scissors House, the first tailoring shop in Accra. Continue reading
Two years ago when visual artist Attukwei Clottey decided to showcase work in his hometown, La, he knew he had to get an enthusiastic group of young folks to buy into the idea. Attukwei wanted the people of La to understand the power of art and how it could transform their community.
Between art residencies in Austria and Netherlands, Attukwei took action and assembled a gathering of characters under the pseudonym “GoLokal.” He adopted this name because of the indigenous style of this artist crew – visually provoking, eclectic, cool yet vibrant. GoLokal is comprised of ten members in total [6 guys, 4 girls] who are quite passionate about their newfound mission.
Since 2012, GoLokal has gained an ever-expanding audience with major performance at art events across the city. In 2013, the crew arrested the attention of attendees’ at ACCRA [dot] ALT’s CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival, literally, taking over the street with improve performances. They even led a grand parade down High Street with the Flat Land Boys bikers and the 25-member Winneba Masquerade. Last month, we jammed up with GoLokal at the 2nd annual FashionistaGH Shopping Festival at Trade Fair. With collage costumes, bright yellow jerry cans, slick face paint and killer dance moves, GoLokal had crowds snapping smartphone pics all afternoon. Word on the street is the people can’t get enough of the La mobile art shows.
No matter how often we work with Attukwei and the rest of the GoLokal crew, we are consistently fascinated by their fresh performance installations. Last week, I visited Attukwei at his art studio to chat on how GoLokal began, what they’re all about and what the art crew’s got going next. Continue reading
“Make You No Forget” blends old school hip-hop with energizing highlife guitar strings and amazing classic horns. Typical of Blitz, the lyrics fit perfectly in to the rhythmic beats and send a wild message to Africans, and everybody around the world not to forget where they come from.
He releases this song ahead of his upcoming “Afropolitan Dreams” album, which drops on April 28. ACCRA [dot] ALT produced the video in association Embassy MVMT with all the scenes shot in James Town Accra. A good amount was shot against mural backdrops from last year’s Chale Wote Street Art Festival inside the old Kingsway building in Ussher Town. We get to see some rising boxing heroes in the heart of Accra plus the crazy bike stunts by local BMX crew Flat Land Boys.
We’re back this March with a special TALK PARTY SERIES event to celebrate International Women’s Month. We’re bringing the ever-dope LAWN JAM to Trade Fair, in collaboration with Fashionista GH.
We’ve got a bangin’ SUN-day party planned with two of our favorite DJs – DJ Pam Bam + DJ Keyzzz – who will keep backsides bumping all afternoon long. Stop over on Sunday, 30th March from 3- 6pm at the Fashionista Pavilion [Event Haven], Trade Fair and jam with us small.
Art can be found in almost every corner in Accra from neighborhood churches, schools and pubs to street stalls, barber shops and corporate campaigns. Art is serious business. In fact, traditional street art plays an influential part in the advertising history of Ghana. This street art features large boards painted with images of popular individuals such as Asamoah Gyan, President John Dramani Mahama, Barack Obama, Michael Essien and many others or everyday scenes of life in Ghana – Like Male House helps dating their bosses’ wives, and men trying to chat women – exaggerated to a humorous effect.
Wanlov the Kubolor – one half of the FOKN BOIS – is making a public service announcement. He’s on an important mission to raise awareness about how human beings can protect the environment by eliminating trash. Even better, he believes we can create amazing, functional art with waste. Continue reading
A year after her first Skype Talk Party Series experience, TAWIAH’s much anticipated return to Accra proved to be well worth the wait.
An intimate evening with the Ghanaian British singer/songwriter began with an open Q&A, where questions sprung out about her creative process and the musicians that influenced her at ages 8, 16, 24, and now (her list included gospel, Wu-tang Clan, Erykah Badu, Radiohead, Me’shell Ndegeocello, the Spice Girls, and her own stuff)
Accompanied by Tawiah’s commentary, we screened music videos from FREEdom DROP, her illmatic mixtape released last March. Videos for “TearDROP”, “FACes”, and “SEAlion”- all teased the crowd into stunned silence. Tawiah shared with us the inspiration for these songs, the vision behind the videos, and amusing anecdotes from her creation process. She discussed the decision to set the music video for “FACes” in Accra, the choice to deviate from the standard song structure with “SEAlion”, and her inability to sink during the filming of “TearDROP”.
The evening concluded with a chillingly beautiful, live performance. Tawiah, poised for utter destruction, propped up her guitar on a knee, a loop station beneath her feet. There was a noticeable shift in the room when Tawiah began to sing – a collective leaning in of bodies gravitating towards the perfect plethora of sound making. The set included two new songs from a forthcoming album this year. Upon much pleading from the audience, Tawiah consented to perform again, this time with a slow jam remix of Soul for Real’s ’95 classic, “Candy Rain”.
Luckily, amidst the praise and congratulations from fans that followed, we were able to pull Tawiah aside for some final questions about the reception to FREEdom DROP, her two week visit in Ghana, and what to expect next from the musician.
Originally posted on Aker: Futuristically Ancient:
Brooklyn Museum assistant curator Rujeko Hockley moderated a conversation at the Studio Museum last week with artists Sanford Biggers and Saul Williams and their relationship to afrofuturism. Here are some notes from the conversation:
*Rujeko thinks of Afrofuturism as a process rather than a label, using it as a label may be too restrictive. But its potential lies in its expansiveness and ability to push boundaries.
*Saul Williams views it as useful for congregating art and artists and that it helps with present pressing circumstances, but is also wary of the label becoming restrictive because others will see that name and think its not for them. He claims that we have always been futuristic and fantastical, before descriptors like Afro or African, from the Dogon finding the stars to bebop to Jimi Hendrix to the art in Haiti to him using his imagination while staring…
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