Ghana’s The Beyond Collective are showcasing new artworks that embrace their country as much as their inner selves

The energy in Ghana is undeniable right now: the country is resplendent with creative potential. There’s a crescendo of so many great projects including the newly launched Nuku Photo Festival, the art weekend hosted by Gallery 1957 and the experimentations taking place at contemporary art space blaxTARLINES in Kumasi to name but three examples. This current coalescence of cultural events is the culmination of efforts that have existed for a long time. 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 miracle.

The Beyond Collective is another such positive progression and was conjured up to highlight the ambitions of creatives in Accra. 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. And now comes Make Be, their third pop-up group show featuring multidisciplinary works by Randa Jebeile, Eric Gyamfi, Poetra Asantewa, Nii Obodai, Rania Odaymat and Francis Kokoroko.

Paying homage to the Ghanaian context, the show 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. Make Be is also a narrative of creative engagement with the self, as Rania Odaymat explains: “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.”

So what does this creative engagement with oneself reveal, and mean? Nii Obodai addresses the theme with his series, Objective Persona, 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, Obodai’s extracts his self-portraits from the negative throwaway of the instant film. Meanwhile Francis Kokoroko’s Yesu Kristo emerged from his introspection of his faith. Forged from long-running thoughts, the photographer has created a re-edit of Christ to comment on the performance of Christianity as a marker of identity.

Performance and spoken word artist Poetra Asantewa presents House Portrait, an autobiographical installation featuring an estate of 30 houses, each offering a snapshot into significant moments of her life through poetry. Conversely Nana Anoff’s Flight #7 is crafted from a surreal story that started with a mysterious call about an endangered airplane and ended with the intervention and preservation of the vintage Challenger 600 by the artist and sculptor. These and other works in the show have been two years in the making and together speak to our universal need for soul searching.

Make Be is on view from 4 to 8 October at La Maison, Icon House, Accra. Images courtesy of The Beyond Collective. The header image is Objective Persona by Nii Obodai, 2018 

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Published on 04/10/2018