It’s undeniable the energy in Ghana right now: the country is resplendent with potential, particularly in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale and Takoradi. There’s a crescendo of so many great projects including Ghana’s first photography festival, Nuku Studio Photography Festival which featured a travelling exhibition across the country, an art weekend hosted by Gallery 1957, and the experimentation taking place at contemporary art space blaxTARLINES in Kumasi.
This coalescence of cultural events are sure signs of exciting times and is the culmination of efforts that have existed long before. Sit in a trotro, and you’ll feel it: there is the talk of change and chance, with self-made entrepreneurs cutting deals on dilapidating and dog-eared seats, as street hawkers entice you with the newest natural miracle creams.
The Beyond Collective was conjured up from conversations and a demand to highlight the ambitions of creatives in Accra, Ghana. Thanks to the alchemy and nourishment of founding members Nana Anoff, Nii Obodai, Panji Anoff, Nada Moukarzel, Nyani Quarmyne and curator Rania Odaymat, the first group show, BEYOND was born in 2013. This year, the collective presents MAKE BE – the third edition of their acclaimed pop-up group show featuring seven multidisciplinary artists in Accra.
Paying homage to the Ghanaian context, it focuses on the resourcefulness of living in a space and place that can bring magic and mayhem in the switch of a second. It is about creation and conversation, especially in an age of change and uncertainty. The artists featured are Nana Anoff, Randa Jebeile, Eric Gyamfi, Poetra Asantewa, Nii Obodai, Rania Odaymat and Francis Kokoroko.
MAKE BE is a narrative of creative engagement with the self. The theme of the exhibition has been guided by the curator, Rania Odaymat who comments ‘the most significant obstacles we face as creatives are personal, while the biggest battles we wage are intimate. In contemplation of this, it made sense to turn our lens, brushes, pens and craft inwards for reflection. It is an invitation for each artist to convey what existing and creating means to them’.
A reoccurring theme and preoccupation of the Beyond Collective is the importance of introspection and reflection. What does creative engagement with oneself reveal, and mean?
For example, Nana Anoff’s Flight #7 is crafted from a surreal story that started with a mysterious call about an endangered aeroplane and ended with the intervention and preservation of the vintage Challenger 600 by the artist and sculptor.
Randa Jebeile’s Picking Up the Pieces is the debut art project by the mosaic artist and graphic designer interrogating ‘what makes us who we become?’. Each panel is a tangent of her personal journey. It is searingly honest, yet playful as it comments on the duality of human nature.
Meanwhile, Nii Obodai’s Objective Persona is an experimental enquiry into the function and process of developing instant passport photographs. By playing with the conventional use of passport photographs as an internationally accepted format for self-identity, Nii extracts his self-portraits from the negative throwaway of the instant film.
The exhibition opens on 4th October at La Maison, Icon House and runs until 8th October 2018. Special mention goes to La Maison for their hospitality and hosting of past and current exhibitions of the collective.