Accra: Portraits of a City, 4th March 2017, ANO, Osu, Accra

On 4th March, ANO will open a new multi-purpose contemporary art space in Osu, Accra, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Ghana’s independence. Located in the centre of Ghana’s capital city, and bringing together an exhibition, screening and performance space, ANO will serve as a hub for the city’s growing art scene. Founded in 2002 as a cultural research platform, the launch of this space marks a new era in the organisation’s history. The institution will be able to stage more substantial exhibitions; host international artists, writers and thinkers; and serve as a gathering place where national and international creatives can meet and collaborate.

The inaugural exhibition, Accra: Portraits of a City, will explore the capital city and the birth of modernity, – its mythologies, rituals, social changes and structures, – through architecture, photography, sculpture, public installation, film and writing by six Ghanaian creatives. Works presented will include photographs from Deo Gratias, the oldest photography studio that is still operating in the city. Established in the 19th century, Accra’s history has been documented through photography since its very beginning. Deo Gratias’ archive tells of Accra as it began – a fishing village – and documents its early architecture, and the growing modernity of its people. Felicia Abban is Ghana’s earliest known female photographer. Her studio celebrates its 60th anniversary next year, and ANO in its remit to create cultural infrastructure in Ghana, will be turning it  into the Felicia Abban Museum to preserve and showcase her work, as well as for workshops for younger photographers. Her work will be exhibited for the first time in the exhibition. Exhibiting alongside photography showcasing Accra’s growth as a city, will be a series of radical structures by young architects Latifah Idriss and Mae Ling Lokko, who reflect on the history of architecture and how it has shaped the identity of the city. Sculptures from Paa Joe whose fantasy coffins incorporate symbols of every day life in Accra into the rite of death at funerals, as well as being exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, are also included. An installation and performance on the Kpeshie Lagoon by Serge Attukwei Clottey will explore Ghana’s enduring philosophical and mythological traditions, and what they mean to a contemporary Ghanaian audience. The exhibition will also mark the launch of the Cultural Encyclopaedia in Ghana. This online project was established to make historical and contemporary cultural knowledge of Ghana accessible to a wider audience. Accompanying the exhibition will be a public programme of talks and workshops running at ANO, local schools and universities; and a book and film created by Nana Oforiatta-Ayim.