Ibrahim Mahama, Exhibition at KNUST Museum, Kumasi, 2013

Ibrahim (b. 1987) is ANO’s first Artist-in-Residence. ANO has worked in collaboration with Ibrahim through writing, curation, film and creating bridges. Ibrahim is of a new generation of artists that is redefining what art can be, how it is exhibited and how it interrogates our relationships with our selves and our surroundings.

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Whether kente, adinkra, or wax print, cloth has long been a semiotic, value-transferring art form in Ghana. West African born, internationally acclaimed artists, like El Anatsui and Yinka Shonibare have carried on and reinvented this tradition by using bottle tops to take on the form of Kente or wax print to usurp Western historical and aesthetic narratives.

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Ibrahim goes a step further by incorporating the provenance, narrative and context of the cloths in his work. He creates out of a commonplace material. Jute sacks imported by the Ghana Cocoa Board and repurposed by charcoal sellers are again repurposed by the artist, and exhibited in the very places they are sold.

His epic installations move out onto the streets, into marketplaces, under abandoned railway bridges, rendering what is unseen, – layers upon layers of rubbish, degradation normalised and neglected by inhabitants and their government, – visible.

In his most ambitious work to date, in a collaboration with ANO, Ibrahim covers the KNUST Museum, both inside and out, in jute cloth to give more obvious form to questions, such as – Is this Art? Who is the Artist? Is this the place for it? What is the relevance of the museum model? And what does it all mean anyway?