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.
ADA: What is the meaning of GoLokal and how did it start?
Attukwei: I’m a painter and I do sculptures as well. At some point, I just wanted to use my work to interact with the people. So, I decided to do performances to show the process of my work.
I think I first decided to name this group GoLokal because I live in a local community and as an artist I think globally but act locally with such topics as the environment. . I invited people to come together and work. As I invited people to become part of what I’m creating, it became a group. We are using the local community to develop a bigger and wider level of creativity.
ADA: How do you come up with ideas for your performances?
Attukwei: I often work in the studio and later show my work. So people don’t get a close relationship to my work [in process] and they might find it hard to understand. Also, the materials that I use are materials people use and dump. So I want to create that relationship between waste and humans for them to understand that someone dumped this and this and the artist transformed it into a different thing.
We also think about bringing art closer to the people. The things that happen around us and in the whole country influences and inspires us to come up with our performance ideas. Not everybody in Ghana understands the kind of contemporary art we do. Thinking of moving our work from galleries to public space and then to individuals also sways our performance ideas.
ADA: What motivates GoLokal’s Performances?
Attukwei: I look at the community I live in because that inspires my work. I look at people and how they struggle to speak. Then I try to bring out solutions to problems that are affecting the community.
People here find it difficult to speak their mind. So I use myself as an object or a tool to send out those messages. Like someone who sells water, I mean he finds it difficult to express himself to the public and then to the government. So as an artist, I take that challenge upon myself to use my creativity to speak out.
ADA: GoLokal uses old clothes and waste materials as costumes for performance. Why is that?
Attukwei: We use old clothes and waste materials because we want to throw more light on the environment. We import so much used clothes [into Ghana] from Europe and when it comes, it becomes waste. We do this by creating costumes from found objects in the community and combining them with certain European costumes. So I combine that with some African elements to raise more awareness on the environment.
ADA: What do you intend to achieve with your performances?
Attukwei: We want to help develop communities with our performances. There are so many issues like poor sanitation and corruption affecting the country and just a few artists use those topics in their work. There is no performing group in Ghana that criticizes politics, religion and the lack of environmental protection. The idea of GoLokal is to be strong enough to challenge those issues affecting the country.
ADA: How are you reaching people with your message since installations are still quite new to Ghanaians?
Attukwei: We’ve done a couple of performances that were on TV, like “Whose Puppet Are You,” which was basically about the 2012 elections. We collected posters from all the political parties and we made costumes. We had people imitating the political candidates. That was good enough to engage people to discuss what the installation performance is all about. Young people really understand installation art and what we do.
In 2012, there was so much tension with the election and people were scared. As an installation artist, I decided to play a major role and release some of that tension with performance. Now we have a lot of people who want to be part of the group. This is very challenging because we have to see what our goal is as a group and determine who comes in and who goes out.
ADA: There are many theatre and art performing groups in Ghana. How unique is GoLokal?
Attukwei: GoLokal, we don’t just entertain. We, most importantly, promote community development. We want people to understand what art really means. Art does not necessarily mean painting beautiful pictures and that’s it. You have to promote the community you come from with what you are able to create. The extraordinary thing about GoLokal is that we don’t perform only on stage to entertain people. We go to public spaces where it is not possible for people to hold exhibitions or programs to perform. So we challenge the standard, we hijack space. That is how we are.
ADA: What is the future of GoLokal? How far are you expecting to go with your style of art?
Attukwei: The future of GoLokal is to be the best performing group that is developing Ghana through art. GoLokal is going to be recognized globally and work with people around the world. We want to share the stories of Ghana and Africa with the whole world. We’ll do exchange performances, so we don’t see ourselves only as an African performing group but a performing group of the world. We hope to stand in any space and on any stage and critique the situation there. We are already planning on touring the whole of Ghana. That is how far we have gone and how far we are expecting to go. The future is very bright.
Get Going with GoLokal | GoLokal